He ranks among the AHL’s fastest skaters, not only in terms of pure speed, but in explosive acceleration.
If there is a loose puck somewhere, he is a consistent danger to opponents.
He can turn what looks like a typical play into an instant scoring chance as he explodes to the puck and races toward the net.
At 5’10”, 180 pounds, he doesn’t cause havoc with overwhelming size, but rather forces mistakes with his skating and speed.
He is the Providence Bruins’ Carl Corazzini, a right wing in his third year out of Boston University.
The 24-year-old native of Framingham, Mass., is having the best year of his career. In 33 games, he ranks fourth in team scoring with 9-6-15 totals, matching his point total from his 61-game rookie season of 2001-02, and surpassing the 13 points he tallied in 33 games last season. Corazzini’s nine goals represent a new career-high, and rank second on the team. He leads the club with three shorthanded goals, which also ties him for the league lead.
Pretty good numbers from a player who was signed as an undrafted free agent by his hometown Boston Bruins on August 8, 2001.
While Corazzini is enjoying a breakout first half of this season, he never thought it possible after being reassigned to the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (ECHL) prior to the start of the 2002-03 season. While heading to the ECHL was difficult, he emerged as a different player when Providence recalled him on January 18, 2003. He spent the remainder of the season with the P-Bruins, and was re-signed over the summer by Boston.
“I was really upset when I got sent to Atlantic City, but in hindsight, it was the best thing for me,” he explains. “I played a lot down there, in all situations. I didn’t play a lot in Providence as a rookie, although I did a fair amount of penalty killing. But in Atlantic City, I played a regular shift, and played on the power play, while still killing penalties. When I came back to Providence, I was much more confident as a player, and I think it carried over.”
While his speed had always been a great weapon, Corazzini realized that the pro game was different. He had adjustments to make, and had to learn how to use that speed effectively.
“I didn’t realize how good the AHL was when I first got to Providence,” he says. “The players are very smart in this league, and they’re a lot stronger and more skilled than the opponents I faced in college. It’s not enough to just be fast, or a good skater, although that’s obviously my greatest asset.
“I had to learn how to use my speed. I had to learn how to recognize holes and lanes, and jump into them at the right time. I had to learn about the importance of my stops and starts in all three zones. It was a really big change, and I don’t think I really started to understand what I had to do until late in my rookie season. Now I understand my game and how I have to play, and I feel very confident.”
Head coach Scott Gordon, who was the Bruins’ assistant coach in Corazzini’s first two seasons, sees the change in his game.
“He’s become one of our key players, and we use him in all situations,” he says. “Carl knows how to use his speed now, and I feel very comfortable using him at any time, whether it’s on a power play, a penalty kill, trying to tie a game or protecting a lead. He’s very gritty too. He’s willing to take hits to make plays, and his teammates notice that.”
Corazzini has played a lot with center Andre Savage, and the two have found a chemistry together.
“Savvy’s such a great player, really good with the puck,” he says. “I know if I’m skating hard and finding the holes or driving to the net, he’ll get me the puck for a good scoring chance. We’ve clicked well together, and I really love playing with him.”
The road has been a little windy for Corazzini, but he’s happy that his hard work and positive attitude have produced results. He is also happy to see his team begin the new year one point out of the Atlantic Division lead, despite being hit hard with injuries and call-ups to Boston.
“It’s been a fun year, even if our lineup has been pretty battered for most of the season. We’ve played games with five or six guys out with injuries, but we just go out and work hard. It’s like Gordo (Gordon) always tells us, we want to make sure we leave everything out on the ice. We do that, and we’ve had good results because of that. Hopefully we’ll eventually get healthy and have a good run this season. As long as we continue to work hard as a team, we’ll continue to have success and have fun.”