Carter Proft doesn’t mind being called the Spokane Chiefs’ enforcer, but he thinks there’s a better way to look at his role.
Everyone on a hockey team must be prepared to be an enforcer, Proft said.
“We have a really tight-knit team and everyone’s willing to stick up for each other,” Proft said. … “There’s obviously the odd nutball (on hockey teams), but … you want to protect your teammates and you want to help your teammates every way you can.”
Proft leads the Western Hockey League with 158 penalty minutes in 52 games. No other Chiefs player ranks among the top 48.
But Proft, who usually plays on the Chiefs’ fourth line, said he doesn’t enter the game looking for somebody to fight.
“You gotta pick your spots, make sure it’s at the right time and situation,” he said. “It’s not a negative thing at all.”
The Chiefs acquired Proft last season from the Brandon Wheat Kings. He scored a goal in his second game with Spokane and finished the season with 50 penalty minutes in 37 games.
Proft said his responsibilities have grown this season with increased playing time.
“I have a job to protect guys and provide a spark when needed, and chip in wherever else I can,” he said.
Proft’s hometown is St. Albert, Alberta, a suburb of Edmonton.
His father, Paris Proft, had a 10-year hockey career that included time with the old Calgary Wranglers of the Western Hockey League and professional teams in Germany. Paris, now a financial planner, coached Carter throughout his childhood. Mother Shelly is a pharmacist.
Carter, an only child, was tabbed in the fifth round of the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft by Brandon.
“Brandon has a lot of tradition there,” Proft said. “It’s a small town, a smaller market, so hockey is really a big thing. You’re definitely the team in town.”
Proft played two games in Brandon as a 16-year-old and returned there for 13 games last season before the trade to Spokane for a fifth-round draft choice.
“I was pretty surprised, especially for being a young guy, to be traded,” Proft said. … “It was my first time being away from home anyway, so it wasn’t like I was really that settled there yet, so it wasn’t that tough a transition to make.”
Proft said any disappointment he had about leaving Brandon went away when he witnessed the atmosphere in the Arena and the organization’s commitment to win.
The Chiefs, who are down to their last 20 regular-season games, have lost a season-high four consecutive games and eight of 11, but Proft remains hopeful.
“I think the sky’s the limit for us if we stick to our guns and work together,” he said.