LOS ANGELES — The Carolina Hurricanes swept up three college players in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft: Justin Faulk (Minnesota-Duluth), Mark Alt (Minnesota) and Danny Biega (Harvard). The three have a lot in common: They’re all defensemen, all committed to the NCAA, and all have family members that are tied to the world of sports.
Biega’s brothers play at Harvard (Alex was drafted 147th overall by Buffalo in 2006), and Alt’s father, John, was a pro football player for the Kansas City Chiefs. But Faulk was the college kid who got picked up first in Saturday’s second round, 37th overall.
Faulk caught the eye of the Hurricanes earlier than expected as he was sitting 56th on Central Scouting’s final list even though Biega was higher at 46th and Alt at 37th (the latter were drafted 67th and 53rd, respectively).
The 6-foot, 196-pound defenseman has a cousin, Marco Peluso, who was a Bulldogs skater from 2002 to 2005, which influenced him to like Duluth at a young age. He credits his mother, Gail, for the success he’s had in his hockey career thus far because she did everything possible to help him live out his dream.
“My mom started having me skate when I was 3 years old,” Faulk said. “I have an older brother David who is 22, a few years older than me, and [even though he never played in college or was drafted], I grew up kind of watching him. I actually didn’t start playing hockey until I was 6 years old and I watched him all the time and he got me into it.”
Faulk grew up in South St. Paul, Minn., the same place that produced former NHLer Phil Housley, the defenseman known to be one of the state’s best players of all time.
The 18-year-old came from the U.S. National Team Development Program, where he scored 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 60 games last season, leading the team with 14 power-play goals as a defenseman. At 17, Faulk was the youngest player invited to the World Junior selection camp during the winter, and he also collected a gold medal at the 2010 Under-18 World Championships in Belarus in April.
They may not have been blood relatives, but the brotherhood and memories Faulk formed with his USA teammates will last a lifetime.
“I think I’ll miss the group of guys I was with,” he said. “The 22 guys there were my best friends for two years there. We had fun; it was kind of like a brotherhood. We’ll be friends for life.
The NTDP boys (12 of whom were drafted this year) hung out all the time and still stay in touch. They even handed out a few superlatives at the end of the year to each other as well.
“I got Most Likely To Be a Zamboni Driver,” Faulk said. “I think I got that because a lot of the guys just know I love to be around the rink and hang out. I love hockey and that’s just kind of the way I am as a person.
“But memory-wise, winning the gold medal in Belarus this past spring was definitely one of the best memories. We dreamed of that for the last two years as a team. That was our goal from day one. It was just great.”
Another dream of Faulk’s has been to play hockey at Minnesota-Duluth, and he can check that off his list this fall.
“I’m really excited to get up to Duluth in September,” he said. “I actually dreamed of going to Duluth pretty much my whole life, and when I got the chance to go there I was really excited. I think it will be a fun year because we’re going to have a good team. I know all but one of the freshmen coming in this year. I’ve met them all at one point or another, so it’s pretty nice.”
Faulk will jump from one team to another, and in a few years, he hopes to take another leap into the pros and make a new family in Carolina.
“I’m very excited about Carolina,” Faulk said. “I think they have a great organization, a lot of prospects coming up too. I think we’re going to have a great team in a few years. So I’m pretty excited getting drafted by them.”
The NHL bloodlines ran deep in this year’s draft; 29 draftees had relatives who have played on the ice, and there were other prospects with relations to various pro and college sports.
Whether athletic ability and interest is inherited genetically or just emotionally, most everyone involved in the field can agree on how important it is to have people around you that believe in each other and work together toward a common goal.
You can’t get far by yourself in the sports world, and for those young athletes like Faulk whose dreams are coming true, they may be beginning to realize that one of the best parts of life is when your family becomes your friends and your friends become your family.