UMD sophomore Tufte credits ex-captain for his success on the ice
MANKATO, Minn.—When University of Minnesota Duluth sophomore wing Riley Tufte took the ice Tuesday at Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato with an 'AC' decal on his helmet and 'AC' written on his sticks, it wasn't just to honor the memory of former Bulldog Andrew Carroll.
It was to say thanks for everything his friends had helped him accomplish in life.
"I give him a lot of credit for my success," said Tufte, the 2016 Minnesota Mr. Hockey from Blaine High School, a 2016 first-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars and current leading goal-scorer at UMD. "He was a big part of my career and my life."
Carroll died Monday in Chicago at the age of 32. The native of Shoreview played from 2005-09 at UMD and holds the distinction of being the only Bulldog to ever serve as an assistant captain and captain for all or parts of four seasons.
Tufte grew up training with Carroll and continued to train with him in his summers since graduating from Blaine. Andrew's older brother, Chris, coached Tufte when he was a high school junior and senior with the Bengals.
Tufte said Andrew Carroll was a big reason he chose to play at UMD.
"I've been friends with Andrew for a long time. It's tough, tough hearing him go like that. He trained me this summer and we were with each other every day," said Tufte, who said he recently spent time with Andrew during the Bulldogs' home series against Denver. "Andrew meant the world to me. He was the greatest guy on and off the ice. He just had the best attitude ever. We lost a good one."
Carroll's senior season at UMD was the first season for Christian Koelling as the Bulldogs' director of hockey operations. Koelling said he spent a lot of time that first year at the old DECC learning about the team's video system and adapting to his new job.
Koelling said he'd often find himself at the DECC late into the evening, and there would be Carroll catching a hockey game on TV or getting a workout in. Carroll was a rink rat, Koelling said.
"He loved being at the rink that he literally never left," Koelling said. "He was just so dedicated. He was absolutely loved by his teammates. Looking back at some pictures over the last few days, every one you see of him on a hockey team whether it be in the East Coast league or Sioux Falls or here, he's got a letter on his chest, in every single one."
In addition to serving as a captain at UMD, Carroll captained the Sioux Falls Stampede during his second season of juniors in 2004-05. As a pro, he played 159 games in the American Hockey League and 315 games in the ECHL over six seasons, wearing a letter during two of those six seasons.
Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said Carroll was one of those players who he knew would wear a letter on his jersey after just one day in the program, though he didn't initially think it would happen that first season.
"He had tremendous work habits and work ethic. He was a tireless worker," Sandelin said. "He's the one guy I probably had to say 'slow down' when he was here, but you weren't going to slow Andrew down. He was very, very driven to be better. He did whatever he could. Team-wise, it was always about the team. It was never about him. He did whatever he could for the team. When you have players like that setting that kind of example, those are the guys wearing letters."