Westbrook’s Carter Amico has been selected to play for USA Hockey’s under-17 national team. He is the fourth player from Maine to make a USA Hockey national development team. Erica Bromley/KADE Sports

Carter Amico has always been the biggest kid on his hockey teams. He’s also used to being among the top players on the ice.

But the 16-year-old defenseman from Westbrook, now 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, said he’s never thought of himself as the “best” player.

“I’ve gotten better over time. I was always one of the better players. Not the best, but better. A good player. Above average,” is how Amico put it.

Amico has officially gone beyond above average.

He can now say he is one of the best 16-year-old hockey players in the country. This month, he was one of 23 players selected to USA Hockey’s 2023-24 Under-17 team. Amico, one of eight defensemen, will arrive with 12 forwards and three goaltenders in Plymouth, Michigan, in late August to begin a two-year residency with the National Team Development Program.

“I’m just really excited because I know a lot of people make it big out of USA Hockey’s development program, and I’m going to work hard, and it’s an honor to represent my country,” said Amico, who played this season for Mount Saint Charles Academy’s 15U AAA team in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. “That was my goal as soon as I heard about it, just to make this team.


The USA Hockey U-17 and U-18 teams play a stiff schedule of games against older players in the United States Hockey League and against NCAA Division I and III teams. They also will play in international tournaments against similarly aged players.

According to USA Hockey, Amico is the fourth player from Maine to be chosen for a national development team, following John LaLiberty of Waterville (1997-98), Greg Moore of Lisbon (2000-02) and current New York Islanders player Oliver Wahlstrom (2016-18), who grew up in Yarmouth. LaLiberty and Moore played college hockey at Colby and Maine, respectively, and Moore played several professional seasons in North America and Europe.

“It’s kind of special to know that, that I’m one of the few from Maine,” Amico said.

Six-foot-5 Carter Amico of Westbrook will be one of eight defensemen on USA Hockey’s U-17 team. Erica Bromley/KADE Sports

Alumni of the National Team Development Program, now in its 26th year, include 91 first-round NHL draft picks and 380 draftees. Wahlstrom was a first-round choice in 2018 by the Islanders.

“The reason this is big to me is a lot of the guys who are on these teams play Division I hockey and play in the NHL or even go to the Olympics,” Amico said. “Most of the guys who have been on the roster, that’s what’s happened.”

Amico went to Westbrook schools from kindergarten through eighth grade. As a high school freshman, he went to Exeter, New Hampshire, to join the Seacoast Development Academy. Hockey development academies have become a common destination for top players. They emphasize hockey training and include academic work. While playing for Seacoast, Amico caught the eye of Mount Saint Charles Coach Scott Gainey when Seacoast played a game against the Mount’s 14U team.


“Initially, it’s obviously his frame. When you walk into a rink and see that, you’re automatically as a coach or a scout, you’re attracted to that,” Gainey said. “But the more I coached him, what impressed was his mobility for his size. I don’t think I’ve ever had a kid who could move that well at his size.”

This year, Amico transferred to Mount Saint Charles, repeated his freshman year, and played on the 15U team. Mount Saint Charles, a prep power for years, added its own hockey development program five years ago, with teams at the 14-, 15-, 16-, and 18-year-old age groups that play a national schedule. This year, four MSC players attended the 45-player USA Hockey tryout for the U17 team. Amico’s teammate, Conrad Fondrk, a forward from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, made the final cut.

Much of Amico’s early hockey exposure was directed by his grandfather, Glenn Amico.

“All my hockey moments, he did hockey with me,” Carter said of his grandfather. “He’s the one who got me through it.”

Carter Amico, right, was always the biggest kid on his youth hockey teams. Courtesy of Glenn Amico

Glenn Amico and Matt Goodrich, formerly of Yarmouth and now a resident of North Hampton, New Hampshire, were Carter’s primary youth coaches, including several seasons with the Casco Bay Spartans.

“He was always a very big kid. We would laugh that Glenn had to carry his birth certificate around everywhere because he was huge,” Goodrich said. “But he was always very skilled. I have always noticed his growth mindset. He was always stickhandling a ball, always trying to make himself better.


“He’s always had a very high growth mentality, and as a result, he’s a big kid with phenomenal hand-eye coordination.”

Gainey said Amico made significant improvements this season by embracing a more physical, direct style. And there is still much room to grow.

“We could be watching him on TV someday,” Gainey said.

Amico said he’s ready to embrace the challenge, including getting into the weight room this summer to add 10 more pounds of muscle.

“This is only the beginning, to be honest. It all starts now,” Amico said.

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