Ice, Ice, Hockey

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P.J. Romanos

Riley Carlson, a left defender on his ice hockey team, believes he makes the best passing shots when his teammates are going for the goal. “If they’re on the move, I can get (the puck) right to their stick, no problem.”

A move from the fourth coldest state in the U.S. to the fifth warmest was a big change for sophomore Riley Carlson. But three days a week, he gets to skate back to his roots.

A Minnesota native, Carlson has been playing ice hockey since the age of six. “I remember having all hand-me-down equipment. I was pretty bad, but I loved it the second I laced up the skates,” he said.

Carlson lived in the city of Prior Lake (near Minneapolis) before he came to Decatur in 2010 to start high school. “My parents used to work for Northwest Airlines, and when Delta bought them, we had to move here,” he explained. The transition wasn’t easy for him. “I was leaving all of my friends I’d known for years and my entire extended family. I was crushed.”

Now, Carlson plays hockey at the Marietta Ice Center for the Atlanta Knights. He’s become good friends with many of his teammates. ”I do like them. We’ve bonded well, and we do beat some pretty high-ranked teams,” he said.

His father, Dan Carlson, is also his coach. “There’s always an interesting dynamic with a father coaching a son, I think it puts a little bit more pressure on him to perform,” he said.

Riley believes he learned how to play from the best. “[My dad] knows the game so well, even though he may get on me more than everyone else,” he said.

Riley loves the sport, even though it may get a little violent at times. “I’ve gotten a lot of bumps and bruises, but the only significant injury I’ve had is a moderate concussion.”

His opponents have not been so lucky. “One time there was a guy on the opposing team who had the puck, so I hit him. I slammed him so hard that his head whip-lashed and it knocked him out. When he got to the hospital, he couldn’t remember his coach’s name or what team he played for. I felt really bad when I heard that.”

Riley’s game schedule is listed on the Knight’s website and their home games are located at the Marietta Ice Center.