IRVINE, Calif. — While most of the media attention at Anaheim Ducks development camp was on second overall pick Leo Carlsson, a pair of second-round picks also made their first appearance in front of the Ducks faithful last week in Irvine.
Carey Terrance and Damian Clara were drafted consecutively at 59th and 60th overall last month in Nashville, but that’s just about where the similarities end. Terrance hails from Akwesasne, NY, which is part of the Mohawk Nation. He is listed at 6-foot-1.
Meanwhile, Clara is listed at 6-foot-6 and grew up in Brunico, a city in the province of South Tyrol in northern Italy. Predictably, he is a goaltender.
The two players come from locations that haven’t produced a large number of NHLers, but that hasn’t deterred them from pursuing their dreams. Both players were also quick to express how grateful they were to be drafted by Anaheim.
For Terrance, being drafted means that he is one step closer to being one of the handful of players of Indigenous heritage in the NHL. “(Zach) Whitecloud and (Brandon) Montour played in the Stanley Cup Final this year,” said Terrance. “That was pretty cool for me to watch.”
Terrance was able to meet Whitecloud—who is Dakota Sioux—in Nashville prior to the draft as the two were part of a youth hockey clinic. Montour, a former Duck himself, is also Mohawk like Terrance.
As a kid, Terrance grew up playing both lacrosse and hockey. Known as “The Creator’s Game”, lacrosse is ingrained in Indigenous culture. “Growing up, it was always hockey in the winter and then in the summer it was lacrosse,” said Terrance.
“It was always just two sports and I would never really get stuck on one sport. Kind of get away from hockey in the summers and play lacrosse, so I think it’s good to be a multi-sport athlete growing up. Lacrosse is in our heritage, it’s in our blood. So, I hope a lot of kids get inspired by me.”
Terrance is the third player in Ducks franchise history to be drafted from the Erie Otters. Jamie Drysdale, who played for Erie from 2018-20 and was drafted by Anaheim in 2020, shot one of the newest Ducks draft picks a text of congratulations shortly after he was selected.
“Yeah, Jamie texted me after I got drafted. He said ‘Congratulations, welcome to the organization’ and to text if I ever need anything. Getting that text from him, he knows what it’s like in Erie and now he’s here in Anaheim full-time. It’s great to get that text and if I have any questions, he’ll be the first one I ask.”
A strong second half of the season earned Terrance a spot on Team USA’s roster for the U18 World Championships this past April. Though he didn’t know anyone on the team going in, he left with many friends.
“I was in Plymouth, Michigan for a week before they left for Switzerland,” said Terrance. “I think that was really good for me. Get the systems down, kind of get intertwined with the team. They were great, they welcomed me with open arms. The coaches worked really well with me and the players were great to me.
The Americans came out on top, beating Sweden in overtime in the gold medal game. Terrance chipped in six points in seven games. “It was a great tournament. Really great experience for me.”
The goal for Terrance is to make it to the NHL, of course. He picked out being drafted by Erie in the OHL Draft as the moment when he felt that he truly had a path to the NHL. Being drafted by an NHL organization only further accelerates that. “It’s been a long journey but I’m not even close to being done yet.”
While Italy is generally more well-known for producing soccer players, the province of South Tyrol has “quite some hockey culture”, according to Damian Clara. “We have lots of teams, lots of kids playing hockey, so it’s a somewhat common thing to do.”
Clara says that while there are a lot of kids in Italy who play hockey, it’s mostly confined to the northern parts of Italy. “The entire south is unknown to hockey.”
Clara was six when he first put on skates, but being a goaltender wasn’t something he thought about right away. “That’s a funny story. So, I was starting off as a player—defenseman (or) forward. It changed all the time early on. But, then I realized, ‘I kind of want to play in net’. We had too many goalies. They didn’t let me play in net so I was like, ‘Well, I want to quit hockey’ (and) go play other sports. One day, an opening came. I tried it (and) kind of fell in love with it right away. That’s when I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Playing for Val Pusteria growing up, Clara moved to the Red Bull Academy in Salzburg, Austria when he was 13. “That was also the moment when I took (playing hockey) really seriously from then on.”
“The academy was great,” said Clara. “Would not change the time there, three awesome years. Basically, you arrive there (and) you’re in the same boat with a bunch of other people your age. They all come away from home and it’s really quick bonding that happens there. You have a lot of coaches, we shared a lot as a team. We went to Finland, all of the east (Europe), we went to Switzerland so it was awesome.”
One of the coaches that Clara crossed paths with at the Red Bull academy was Matt McIlvane, who was named head coach of the San Diego Gulls—the Ducks’ AHL affiliate—a few months ago. “They took really good care of us,” continued Clara. A ton of good coaches came in every year and we got to learn a lot from them. Players from (the academy) also moved on to various pro ranks. It’s nice to see.”
Players in the Red Bull academy typically transition to playing for Salzburg or Munich, but Clara felt that he needed more time at the junior level before moving up to the pro leagues. A move to Färjestad in the SHL was crafted thanks to a mutual connection between the Red Bull and Färjestad goaltending coaches.
Clara appeared in 35 games for Färjestad J20 this past season, going 17-17-0 with a 2.79 GAA and .903 SV%. This upcoming season, he will be loaned to Brynäs in the HockeyAllsvenskan. Brynäs was relegated from the SHL this past season.
“(Färjestad) chose the team for me. They just told me, ‘The plan is for you to get loaned out hopefully to the Allsvenskan.’ That’s a really good next step I think also in the development curve, I’m not quite ready for any higher level. It’s like the perfect middle step. I got one call and they said it was Brynäs. I was like, ‘What? It’s Brynäs?’ They’re like one of the teams with the highest aspirations. It was a shock at first. It was a really pleasant surprise, the same as being drafted was also a bit of a surprise––second-round pick by the Ducks. It’s been two very pleasant surprises so far.”
Off the ice, Clara likes to keep active by skiing and playing tennis and soccer. He also bikes and hikes a lot back home in the mountains. “I was a big sports guy growing up.”
There was no sudden growth spurt for Clara growing up. He was always tall. But, he says that it’s a good thing since it meant that he never had to get adjusted to being much bigger all of a sudden. “I was always lucky to be big. Or, less lucky sometimes,” he said with a laugh. “It’s good.”
Clara believes his strengths to be his skating and athleticism in combination with his size. “I need to get more consistent as well with small details that I need to work on, and also there’s a lot of work left on the body. Getting stronger and also being able to play longer.”
Clara says he doesn’t model his game after anyone, but the Russian cohort of goaltenders in the NHL is a group that he thinks is really exciting to watch. “They all play their own kind of style. They’re very natural and flowy so I really enjoy watching highlights of them.”
“There were four goalies that we were interested in selecting this year,” said Ducks assistant general manager Martin Madden following Day 2 of the 2023 NHL Draft. “The way that goalies started to come off the board early on in the second round, (we) didn’t want to take a chance that he would not be available later than where we picked him.”
“(Goaltending coach Sudarshan Maharaj) is passionate about him. He’s really young in his development. Italian kid that moved to Red Bull Salzburg and then onto Färjestad. He’s going to be playing pro next year in Brynäs. He’s just starting on his development curve. Unbelievable athlete for a 6’5” guy. So coordinated, we love him.”