WHL Next Generation is a 22-part series highlighting a handful of the future stars of the Western Hockey League. From first-round bantam draft picks to later-blooming selections, get to know the names of players set to establish themselves as the newest crop of exciting talent to grace the WHL. From August 1 through August 31, get the inside scoop on the incoming rookie class of 2019-20.
Team: Winnipeg ICE
Weight: 203 pounds
Draft: WPG (2018) Round: 1 (#2)
As the first defenceman and second player selected overall in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, Carson Lambos’ defensive skills have been marked the highest among 2003-born blueliners. While this may be a matter of opinion, Lambos has consistently lived up to and even exceeded the expectations set for him.
Beginning in his second year of bantam, the season before the WHL Bantam Draft, Lambos played for the Canadian Sports School Bantam Hockey League’s (CSSBHL) Rink Hockey Academy Bantam Prep team. During his bantam season, Lambos recorded 40 points (15G-25A) in 30 games, leading the league and his team in defensive scoring. For his efforts, Lambos was awarded the CSSBHL Top Defenceman award, proving his ability to scouts and teams that he should be ranked among the top defenders in his age group.This season with the Canadian Sports School Hockey League’s (CSSHL) Rink Hockey Academy Prep team, Lambos continued to exceed expectations recording 30 points (14G-16A) in 23 games. This performance stood out in the CSSHL and again Lambos was recognized with the Top Defenceman award for his efforts. Not only did Lambos do well in this league, but also when he made the jump to the WHL.
“[My first game] was the home opener in Calgary and just coming out onto the ice to all the fans and light show was something I don’t think I will ever forget,” Lambos said. “It was a great experience and going into the game it was definitely a faster pace than I was used to, but I enjoyed the challenge and was eventually able to adjust.”To play as a 15-year-old affiliate defenceman is no easy task, but for Lambos, he handled it with confidence and strength. While it’s not unheard of, it certainly is more challenging for rookie defencemen to score because it isn’t necessarily their first priority when playing. But for Lambos, he was able to balance both the defensive and offensive side of the game, notching his first career WHL goal in his fifth game with the ICE. As he describes, his first career WHL goal was a perfect example of his playing style.
“I like to play a 200-foot game and I like to take pride in my defensive game first,” the Winnipeg, Man. native said. “I like to think I’m a hard player to play against, but I’m also able to make plays on the offensive blue line when I’m given the opportunity.”
Not only did he score his first career WHL goal during a doubleheader weekend against the Brandon Wheat Kings, but he also experienced another first.
Also currently playing in the WHL is Carson’s brother, Jonny Lambos, a member of the Wheat Kings’ defensive core.
“It was a really cool experience being able to play against my brother,” Carson said. “He and I have trained together growing up and that was the first time we’d played against each other, so it was really cool to see him at that level as well.”Continuing with his list of firsts, Carson also earned the opportunity to lead Team Manitoba in the 2019 Canada Winter Games as their captain and gain experience and exposure on the national stage.
“It was a tremendous experience being able to play on a national team like that – it was super cool and something I won’t forget,” Carson said. “Unfortunately, the team came up short, but being able to be in a leadership experience like that was a great opportunity.”
At the end of the hockey season, there was a lot for Carson to look back on in terms of his success. He played in the WHL as a 15-year-old, competed against his brother for the first time, notched his first career WHL goal, captained his provincial team at the 2019 Canada Winter Games and earned a Top Defenceman award – pretty incredible highlights in such a young hockey player’s life, let alone one season.
As much as the success continued to make Carson proud of his accomplishments, he knows that he has to work for what he wants
“Making the roster is my biggest goal,” Carson said about the upcoming season. “I’m just trying to prove myself and show what I’m capable off and hopefully I can achieve that because, at the end of the day, nothing is guaranteed.”