Here is the transcript of our interview with Carsen Twarynski from late last week. Enjoy!
Listen to the interview on Apple Podcasts here
Dan Esche: Alright everybody welcome to Brotherly Pod! It is Friday April 17th, 2020 and it’s a very special episode of Brotherly Pod. We have a Philadelphia Flyers prospect on the line; current Lehigh Valley Phantom Carsen Twarynski is joining us today! Carsen, how you doing man?
Carsen Twarynski: Good, thank you. Thanks for having me.
Dan Esche: Well, obviously it’s been about a month now since the season went under. How have you been coping? What are you doing to keep yourself busy and how are you keeping in shape with the downtime?
Carsen Twarynski: Yeah, it’s obviously been a bit of a roller coaster here. But you know I ended up getting back into Canada about a month ago and was self-isolating at my buddies house in Ontario, and then just was able to make it back home a couple of weeks ago and did the same thing at my brother’s before I got home with my parents. So it’s been different but I’ve been trying to do what I can at home with what I have been given to stay in shape and stay in the loop of things.
Steve Appleman: It’s been a bit of a roller coaster but you know getting a little bit onto your hockey career, who do you think were some of the most influential people in your hockey life over the years? You know family, coaches anything like that?
Carsen Twarynski: Yeah, I had a few coaches growing up. You know obviously my parents pushed me through a lot when I was younger and they sacrificed a lot to get me into the hockey side of things and to get me where I am today. You know, obviously a lot of it comes from the work I do but I wouldn’t be there without the support and the push that they have given me. Like I said some of the coaches throughout the years have been monumental for my progress.
Manny Benevides: Carsen, it’s Manny here. I wanted to ask you a little bit about your Junior Hockey career. Coming up in the WHL, I know that you were with two great hockey programs with the Calgary Hitmen and the Kelowna Rockets. I write about Canadian Junior Hockey for the Brotherly Puck website. What memories or lessons from Junior Hockey and those early years can you share with all of us today?
Carsen Twarynski: I know one thing I could pass along to younger kids would be to just enjoy junior. You know it’s obviously probably some of the best years of your life. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some pro hockey in the NHL so far this year. It’s a really fun time being a rookie, but you know nothing really compares to junior. You are on young teams and you’ve got your antics you are all up to, and you get to enjoy it with your buddies and your teammates. Luckily for me, for the first two and a half years I was at home so I got to stay at home with my parents. Then the last year and a half I got to experience living with a billet family and I was lucky enough for that to be in Kelowna; which is a beautiful city and a great organization and a great team, so I would not take that for granted. Enjoy all the little moments and all the little memories.
Manny Benevides: Yeah, I’ve got in-laws over in Kelowna and I was meaning to go see them actually over the March break and of course with all this stuff happening I couldn’t make it out there. But, I always find it interesting that growing up and going through life you tend to have people just cycling back into your life every so often and you are kind of on the same kind of path. I mean, there’s people that I have gone to high school with, then went to University with, and now I’m working with and they kind of just keep popping up. How neat is it that you and Travis Sanheim played together with both the Calgary Hitmen and the Philadelphia Flyers?
Carsen Twarynski: Yeah, it’s cool for sure. When we were in Calgary together, we were obviously on a very good team in my first year which we were fortunate to be a part of. Once I got drafted in 2016, he was one of the first guys that I called to let him know and then have a little chat with him. It’s been cool like I said. It’s not only great to have memories and some friendships last from junior, but when you can have some of those friendships continue on throughout pro it is definitely special.
Dan Esche: Let’s fast forward a little bit to the pre-season this year. Obviously a very busy pre-season you know you competed very hard and earned yourself a roster spot. You started the season the Czech Republic. You were featured on Behind the Glass. What was that whole experience of training camp like for you in fighting and earning a roster spot out of camp?
Carsen Twarynski: It’s difficult. I had my mind and I came super close the previous year to making it and it was obviously cut a little short. It’s all about work ethic and your mindset and how you look at things and I saw an opportunity and I just kind of ran with it and obviously very fortunate to be able to start in that Global Series which is something that not a lot of guys can say. So now I’m happy with that that obviously. The season ended up to be a bit of a rollercoaster as well, but it is a stepping stone and something to work with.
Dan Esche: They say that every player remembers their very first NHL goal. Yours happened on October 12th, 2019. What can you tell us about it?
Carsen Twarynski: It was in Vancouver and the shift itself was kind of a little scrambly shift. Then there was a long regroup and Brauner made a heck of a pass up to the far blueline. I just kind of looked up, took my shot, and it went in. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get to celebrate because I kind of got tripped a little bit. But it is what it is and I’ll take it. I was lucky enough for my brother to be there too. My parents got to see me play my first game in Prague, and my brother wasn’t able to make it all the way across there [to Prague]. But, he was able to make it to Vancouver. So they both saw a first for each of them.
Manny Benevides: That’s awesome Carsen. Just a quick follow-up. Do you remember who dumped you after you scored the goal?
Carsen Twarynski: I do not.
Manny Benevides: Did you take his number down and you know give him a little bit later on in the game or what?
Carsen Twarynski: No, the only number that I had that game was 18. I played with him in Calgary actually – Jake Virtanen. I had a little scenario by the boards. I went to give him a little crosscheck in the chest and got up a little high on him. Which is unfortunate because he took me out for a nice dinner before that game.
Manny Benevides: [Laughing] A little payback. Well you scored the goal and you know the guy you got you down was Tanev.
Carsen Twarynski: Oh, okay.
Manny Benevides: Do you remember who the first guy that congratulated you on the goal was?
Carsen Twarynski: Laughton.
Manny Benevides: Definitely. Totally right. Good for you.
Steve Appleman: You guys have a great group of players in that whole Flyers team and it seems like a great group of guys. Is there any player or players that have kind of taken on a mentor role to you while you were both with the Flyers and maybe a little bit with the Phantoms? How have they helped you on and off the ice because you know it can be a little bit of an adjustment getting up to the NHL and players rely on other players kind of for a little bit of help and I imagine you went through the same sort of thing.
Carsen Twaynski: Yeah for sure. Throughout a little bit of the last stretch of preseason and in training camp I was living with Kevin Hayes, so he showed me around a little bit and I got to spend some time with him and he told me some stuff and gave me some advice. Shayne Gostisbehere lives close to him in Philly, so we spent a lot of time together. Whether it was going for a walk or having a couple of dinners with the older guys that live downtown; it is nice to kind of get out of the hotel and to kind of get acquainted with them and meet them and get to talk to them a little bit more. You know I think everyone would say the same thing. The whole team there is pretty well as advertised like you said and there are a lot of leaders there. One big name that obviously stands out to everyone there is Giroux. He’s a great leader and he takes everyone in. But like I said, the whole team in general, all the vets, they took the young guys in for camp and through the start of the season, and you know they showed us the ropes and what it is like to be a pro. I don’t think I can really single anyone out, but Claude is definitely up there for one of the best.
Steve Appleman: That’s awesome! One of the biggest things that prospects and people fighting to make the NHL like you did is notice the differences in the game at different levels. For fans who aren’t aware or in tune to the game, what are some of the biggest differences you find between the AHL hockey game in the NHL hockey game?
Carsen Twarynski: Honestly, I think the biggest thing would be just execution and details. You know it’s obviously fast but I think it also looks a lot faster because everything is just so clean. You know all the passes are on the tape, everyone is where they are supposed to be in all the right situations. In the American League, it is a development league and there are a lot of us are still trying to learn certain systems and get the hang of things, so it’s a little bit more chopped up I believe from my experiences at least. I wouldn’t say the speed and physicality is way far off. Some games I think in the American League are even more physical because there are guys that just want to work their way up and make themselves known and get that chance. I think the biggest things would just be details and execution.
Manny Benevides: All right. Well Carson, you know I’ve doing a lot of research prior to our interview here, and I got to tell you that there is one thing I’m a little disappointed in. How do you not have an IMDB page after your work on Behind the Glass last year?
Carsen Twarynski: [Laughs] I don’t know honestly. It is kind of just natural stuff. I was lucky to be a part of it like I said. That’s one thing that I am not going to take for granted. You want to kind of have fun with it. There was a lot of cool stories from that trip and I’m glad that we took advantage of that because like I said that’s an opportunity that I might not ever have again. To be in a Global Series or be across seas for a game or what not. So you know to be able to have that recorded on TV and on the internet and I can watch that whenever I want or show it to my kids when I am older. That is something that I will always look back on.
Manny Benevides: Well, if I were you I would send the head shot that you used from the photograph yesterday when you did the Q&A session with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and you took over their Twitter and Facebook. Use that picture. And for the fans out there that didn’t see it, Carsen’s got a great Toronto Blue Jays hat on there! You know, just saying!
I know that you kind of answered one of these questions about who the best coach you’ve ever had was and I did read that that response yesterday online. But what has it been like working with Alain Vigneault, because you did say that he was your favorite coach and what advice or guidance has he given you in terms of improving your game and taking that next step into your NHL career?
Carsen Twarynski: Yeah, he was a great coach while I was up there and the time I got to spend with him. He conducts himself in a very serious way but he’s also very open with all the guys and it’s easy to communicate with him and be around him all the time. He is always with a good attitude. You know, I think that speaks a lot about a coach. To be able to have your team comfortable with you, that’s the first step in really getting them to trust you and to follow in your footsteps. In terms of personal work, he totally made sure I kept on doing what got me there and that I knew what they needed me for. It is the same as when I was growing up. You know when I was in junior I was a fourth-line guy my first year (almost first two years) and just played the hard and simple game. Then as I got older and developed more play, I got to play more minutes and I ended up putting more points and all that. I see my professional career going the same way. Obviously, I know I got to work my way into the lineup, make myself known, and be a positive attribute to the team. I know through my career things will start to go more north in certain areas of my game but for now I just need to keep on sticking to what got me to the dance.
Dan Esche: What part of your game were you working on most when you got sent back down to the Phantoms?
Carsen Twarynski: Just trying to be consistent in the roots of my game. I had to try to stay physical all the time. You know it is difficult to do in the American League especially because there’s so many guys that are physical down there trying to earn spots on different teams. It does take a wear on your body so I was just trying to focus on being physical and play north-south. Not trying to make too many skill plays, just trying to keep it simple and get pucks on net and make smart plays and smart reads in trying to be a responsible player.
Steve Appleman: You know, it’s been a pleasure to watch you battle up in camp at the start of the year and I really thought you brought a lot to the bottom six. It’s been a pleasure to watch you grow and I am really rooting for you to make the big club.
Carsen Twarynski: Thank you. I appreciate that. Moral support is always nice. I haven’t really had a lot of support growing up. I mean, I have kind of been put under the radar a lot so it’s good to hear things like that every little once in awhile.
Manny Benevides: We’re all pulling for you Carson. Your energy level on the ice, the big smile that you always have – you look like you have a lot of fun out there. A quick trivia question for my co-hosts: in Carsen’s last year with the Kelowna Rockets can you guys name the coach -Carsen’s coach of the Kelowna Rockets who was a former Flyers defenseman?
Dan Esche: Was it Jason Smith?
Carsen Twarynski: Yep. You are correct.
Manny Benevides: Jason Smith. Good for you Dan! You are on the ball man!
Dan Esche: I’m a big Jason Smith fan so that one was on the tip of my tongue.
Manny Benevides: I thought I was going to stump you guys.
Carsen Twarynski: [Laughs]
Dan Esche: Well you know with the season obviously put on hold, what are you looking forward to most going into next season when all of this settles down?
Carsen Twarynski: I think everyone is just going to be super eager to get back. I don’t know what the circumstances are to finish this year’s playoffs or regular season for the NHL for the American League for that matter, but regardless I think it’s going to change the scenario big time depending on what happens. I think if they bring it back and then end up having only a month before the regular season starts for next year. I think that will be a difference in the fact where a lot of guys might be banged up from playoffs and if they don’t for whatever reason, if they’re not able to I think everyone’s going to be really eager to get back and start out that way. But you know either way, I think all the players want to play and want hockey back so its kind of an unfortunate time. Especially for Philadelphia; a team that was doing good in the last half and I think they were going to be able to make a strong playoff push. Like I said, that team is probably one of the most tight knit groups that I have been a part of and it’s obviously not good news that they had to kind of slow down their momentum here.
Dan Esche: If they do end up finishing out the rest of month of the season here, is it going to be odd to playing in front of no fans in the stands?
Carsen Twarynski: Yes and no. I think personally you know when you’re in a game you can obviously feed off the atmosphere and the energy in the building. But for me, if I’m sitting on the bench, or if I am skating to a face off, or done a shift and the whistle blows and I’m skating to the bench then I notice the crowd. I kind of look up and check it out. But in terms of trying to play when you’re on the ice, I don’t think you really notice it a whole lot. You’re so focused on what you trying to do that I don’t think it plays a big part. But like I said, when you’re not actually in the play or involved in any sort of action you really do notice the fans so it’s kind of a double-edged sword.
Manny Benevides: We kind of touched on Travis Sanheim earlier. Any other guys from junior hockey that you keep in touch with? Maybe Nolan Foote your line mate in Kelowna?
Carsen Twarynski: Yeah, I try to keep in touch with a lot of those guys from Calgary. I still got a lot of numbers in my phone and try to reach out whenever I can. Sometimes it’s longer than others. In Kelowna, I still talk to a lot of those guys. I am really good buddies with Dillon Dube. He is from Cochran and lives in Calgary and he was fortunate to play for the Flames and I was fortunate enough to be on his line. He ended up getting me a lot of goals in Kelowna which helped me to sign that contract. So a lot of kudos to him. But I try to keep in touch with as many guys that I can.
Manny Benevides: Last thing from me Carsen. I love watching the NHL draft. What was it like when you got that call that the Flyers were taking you? How special was it to have your friends and family there, and to have that experience?
Carsen Twarynski: It was real special. I was actually in Buffalo with my parents and my brother. We decided to make that trip. I talked to my agent before that and he said he had a pretty good feeling I was going to go to one of three teams. He said it was either going to be Calgary, Edmonton, or Philadelphia. So I asked him ‘what do you think, should I go’, and he said ‘yeah, it’s worth it’. So we ended up going and fortunately I was picked by Philadelphia. I think the team fits me perfectly and I am a good match for the team too. It’s a blue collar city and it resembles my game and hopefully I’m going to be lucky enough to spend my career there.
Manny Benevides: So you were born in St. Albert, that is just outside Edmonton but you were raised in Calgary. Who did you like growing up? Can you say, or are you afraid with the Battle of Alberta that you might make some enemies?
Carsen Twarynski: No, my dad was a big Edmonton fan so I grew up rooting for the Oilers. My go-to guys were Ryan Smith and Ales Hemsky. But growing up and obviously maturing a little bit and being part of the league, I don’t have favorites. I work hard for the team that I am on.
Manny Benevides: Awesome!
Dan Esche: Well Carson, we want to thank you very much for joining us today and that’ll be it for us here. All right everybody we will be back sometime in the next couple of weeks here. Until next time everybody, goodbye and good night.
Carsen Twarynski: Thank you guys for having me on! My pleasure.
***Thanks for reading our interview with Philadelphia Flyers prospect and Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward Carsen Twarynski!
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Dan Esche: @dantheflyerafan
Manny Benevides: @mannybenevides
Steve Appleman: @Snapp1eApp1e