Another Cup would fill duo's title hat trick

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- As if winning a gold medal at the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championship wasn't enough of a thrill for one season, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter figured they would add another piece of hardware to the trophy case.

After completing their respective junior hockey careers in the Ontario Hockey League, Richards and Carter joined the Philadelphia Phantoms and were key contributors in the American Hockey League's Calder Cup playoff victory.

Carter actually led the league in playoff scoring with 12 goals and 23 points in 21 games.

"It was awesome -- it was a great experience and it really helped me out in getting accustomed to the pro game. I feel really comfortable here now," said Carter, who also joined the Phantoms for a playoff run in 2004. "Coming up to the AHL, it was a very good league, with all of the guys down because of the lockout. I was grateful to get the chance to play in both (the world juniors and Calder Cup playoffs). Guys were playing different roles than what they were used to, but nobody complained."

Richards also played a key role, though he admits to feeling a bit uncomfortable coming in late after a stellar career with the Kitchener Rangers that included a Memorial Cup victory in 2003.

"It was tough at first, getting used to a new team and a new league," said Richards, who had seven goals and 15 points in 14 games. "You don't want to take someone's spot but at the same time, as long as you're winning, there's not too much of a problem with it. It was fun winning a championship and there were 20,000 people there (Wachovia Center) for the final. The whole atmosphere and the whole pro experience and getting your feet wet was pretty cool."

Somewhat shockingly, if all goes well in the post-season this year, there's a chance that both Richards and Carter could add another title in the span of 18 months and have a chance to sip from Lord Stanley's mug.

"It's so far away right now, but it's one of those dreams," said Richards. "Just to get an opportunity to play for a great team and a great organization in your first year is a pretty cool experience."


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