The Life Coach – Angus Carroll
“You’re either going to be a hockey player or a working man.”
Those wise words spoken to members of the Eastern Canadian champion Sherwood-Parkdale Metros in the late 70’s by Coach Angus Carroll, who endured the joys and hardships of being a talented hockey player. He was a little of both – a promising star who didn’t quite make it and then a hard working family man, who turned to coaching in the amateur ranks and turned out to be one of the most successful at that job ever in the history of PEI hockey.
Claude Angus ”Angie” Carroll was born in Parkdale, PEI on August 2, 1936. Parkdale is part of the City of Charlottetown today and was a town on the outskirts of the Island capital in the 30’s. It is rather ironic that one of his greatest coaching jobs would be with the Metros Junior “A” team in the 1978-79 and 1979-80 that would represent Eastern Canada in the Centennial Cup Tier II National Championship. He was a no-nonsense but player friendly type of coach who asked only that each person on his team do their job and not to quit, no matter how tough the going. His son Dunstan was team captain and a member of the talented junior team that barely lost the final game on the ’79 Centennial Cup tournament to the hometown Prince Albert Raiders. Angie also coached the ’79-80 Metros that won another Maritime championship, this time over the Cole Harbour Colts and advanced to the Centennial Cup nationals in North York, Ontario that spring. A year few months he was behind the bench with the Charlottetown Islanders that won the Canadian Intermediate “A” championship in rough and tumble series against the North Winnipeg Warriors in 1981.
Carroll was a talented young forward who played on the 1949-50 Provincial Interscholastic Champion Queens Square School Hockey team coached by Cecil Dowling that also included Junior MacLeod who make his mark in senior circles in years to come. In 1953 Sam Pollock, the legendary Montreal Canadiens General Manager invited Carroll to join the organization. Angie played three seasons in the Habs system and had a year in pro with Indianapolis in the International League. Fellow Islander Forbie Kennedy was one of his team-mates in training camp in Montreal.
Carroll who was listed as a 5-11, 170 pound forward, spent the 1954-55 season with the Kitchener Canucks in the OHA playing in 38 games and scoring twice while adding an assist. A year later a split season between the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, who played in the OHA Senior loop (he had 4 goals, 6 assists and 10 points) and eleven games with Ottawa Junior Canadiens in the Quebec Hockey League where he has one assist. Ottawa made it to the Memorial Cup finals that spring and lost to the Flin Flon Bombers. Several NHL notables on the team with the likes of Ralph Backstrom, Murray Balfour,Claude Ruel, Bobby Rousseau and Gilles Tremblay who all made to the NHL. Angus Carroll was a 20 year old on the team. His closest brush with NHL fame was in exhibition games. In January, 1957 the Ottawa juniors hosted the New York Rangers before 2,500 fans at the Auditorium. The Rangers won the game easily, 8-3 but Carroll raised some eyebrows with a beautiful pass out to Gerry Wilson who beat New York goalie Gump Worsley in the second period. The Rangers had stars like Andy Bathgate, Dean Prentice and Bill Gadsby in the line-up. Angie was listed as “Claude Carroll” on the line-up sheet.
The following season in 1957-58, Carroll joined in the Indianapolis Chiefs of the International Hockey League. He has two goals and eleven assists in 23 games. But that would be it for his pro career. Carroll returned home to play centre for the Charlottetown Royals senior team where he starred for several years. He got his first coaching stint in 1959 with Sandy’s Charlottetown Royals at the tender age of twenty-three. He was a player-coach and guided them to three Maritime Intermediate “A” Championships. The team was owned by Sandy Frizzell who ran a sand and gravel services and sponsored the intermediate team for several years. Angie was Sandy’s right hand man on most of those teams.
The Royals continued on as a franchise until the mid-1970’s. Angie turned to old-timers hockey and coached the Charlottetown entry to a National Championship (in the B Division) in 1974 in Lethbridge, Alberta. He not only coached but scored the winning goal in the final game and was the MVP.
Bobby Rousseau who made his mark with the Canadiens, North Stars and Rangers in the 1960’s and 70’s was quoted as saying the best centre he ever played with was Angie Carroll. Rousseau won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1960-61 and played on four Stanley Cup championships and won a silver medal in hockey with Canada in 1960. Angie obviously helped his career.
Carroll gained notoriety in coaching when he took over the role behind the bench of the Sherwood-Parkdale Metro Juniors in the spring of 1979. Vern Frizzell and George Monaghan were the coaches but were struggling as the playoffs were about to begin. Carroll took over the team that included his son Dunstan and won the Island Championship and the Blanchard Memorial Trophy by defeating their arch rivals, the Charlottetown DB&J Eagles followed by regional playoff series wins over Fredericton and Halifax. The Metros advanced to the Centennial Cup round-robin finals and defeated the defending champion Guelph Platers twice to reach the final with the hometown Prince Albert Raiders in Saskatchewan. The Metros fell behind 2-0 in the first period before 7,500 Prince Albert fans, but came back to tie the game in the second and went ahead 3-2 in the third only to see the Raiders even the score and eventually win it in overtime. The outcome was a 5-3 victory for the western hosts. Angie Carroll and company had just took part in one of the most memorable playoff hockey games in Island history. A legend was also born that night. The Metros repeated as Island champs in 1979-80 and finished third in the Centennial Cup tournament in North York. During the playoffs there were two infamous pregame brawls. First in Cole Harbour against the Colts in the Maritime finals and the second at the North York Centennial Centre where the Red Deer Rustlers (starring the Sutter twins Rich & Ron and high scoring brother Brent). Carroll and GM George Trainor were instrumental in putting together a team that realized a tough act to follow - repeating as Maritime champs .
Angus Carroll was all business as a coach but also an understanding mentor to his players. He expected a solid effort from each individual but was fair and seemed to get the most out of his players when the chips were down. In the fall of 1980 he returned to intermediate hockey joining the Charlottetown Islanders as head coach. He helped guide them to the playoff series victories over Fredericton, Timmins, and North Winnipeg as the Islanders became Hardy Cup Intermediate “A victors which was the highest national caliber championship in PEI hockey history. Angie seldom took credit for any win. He instead bestowed the honour on his team. He died in Charlottetown just a month after celebrating his 71st birthday in September, 2007. A few years earlier he had given the gift of life to brother Dick who needed a kidney transplant. Angie acted as the donor.
He also gave much of himself to the game of hockey which he loved. His dedication as a teacher and coach paid off for a lot of players in his time. Players who performed under him speak highly of the qualities he taught them. Angus Carroll was voted into the PEI Sports Hall of Fame in May, 1981. A hero for all working men and few stars along the way.
Brothers Angie & Dick Carroll
1953 Jr. Canadiens. Forbes Kennedy 3rd from the left Angus Carroll 8th from the right
1979-80 Sherwood-Parkdale Metros Juniors