Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) freshman defenseman Carson Soucy knew that making the transition to college hockey wouldn't be easy.
"The speed and the strength is a lot different than juniors," he said. "The caliber of players is definitely a step up."
What the freshman didn't plan on, though, is playing on UMD's top defensive pairing alongside sophomore Andy Welinski.
"I didn't plan on playing with him," Soucy said. "I don't think I'd be up there playing top minutes if it wasn't for him. He makes the game a lot easier with his speed and the way he moves the puck."
The game has become easier for Soucy as well, and the progress leads head coach Scott Sandelin to believe in a tremendous upside for the freshman defenseman.
"I think he's been fairly consistent for a young player," Sandelin said. "It's not an easy position to play and playing with Andy, who plays a lot of minutes, you've got to give him credit for being able to do that. It's not an easy job."
"He's done very well," Welinski said. "He's stayed calm, he knows what he can do, and he's done a very good job of playing to his strengths."
One of those strengths is just being big. Soucy is listed at 6'4, 205 pounds -- size that gives him a distinct advantage out on the ice.
"He's definitely tough to go against, especially with that long stick and that long reach," UMD freshman forward Dom Toninato. "It's tough to get around him. He's definitely a solid defender."
"His physical play is one of his strong suits, and I think that's big time for the whole team," Welinski said. "If he goes and lays a big hit, other guys think they can do it too, so it's good that he's playing physical."
So for now, it's keep doing what he's been doing -- which includes sometimes battling the nerves before a big game.
"I still get a little nervous," Soucy admitted, "but I try to play to my abilities and use confidence. I think that helps my game."