HARROLD HAPPY TO RETURN HOME AS AN NHLer
In his first professional season after three years at Boston College, Harrold signed as an undrafted free agent with the Kings, was named an AHL all-star, earned an assist in his NHL debut and Wednesday night played before his family and friends in his home state of Ohio as the Kings lost to the Jackets, 3-2 in overtime.
"It has been a good year for me," Harrold said. "I expected to play in Manchester this year and I did not really think I would reach the NHL. I have been learning a lot in Manchester. There is a huge difference going from college to the AHL and from the AHL to the NHL.
"Coming up here is just another learning experience."
One of many which began at an early age, watching his older brother Josh play the game.
"We are very close, he has helped me throughout my career," Harrold said. "I play hockey because I grew up watching him. I have always followed in his footsteps."
Josh was a defenseman at Miami (Ohio) University from 1995-99, scoring 15-42=57 in 126 games and then played six professional seasons in the AHL and ECHL scoring 46-126=172 in 335 games before finally retiring after the 2004 season. He now is an assistant coach for the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets of the USHL, which plays at Nationwide Arena, site of Wednesday's game.
"My brother had not seen me play [in the NHL]," Harrold said. "He takes great interest in my career and really has helped me make it to where I am today. He is my biggest fan."
Josh, however, may have not been rooting for his younger brother Peter on March 24, 2006, when Miami and BC faced off in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Though his older brother went to Miami, Peter decided to leave The Buckeye State and enroll at Boston College. Harrold earned the program's Bernie Burke Outstanding Freshman Award in 2002-03 and would play in 156 games for the Eagles, scoring 14-56=70, earning All-American honors his senior year.
On March 24 of his seniorcampaign in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Peter and the Eagles matched up against his older brother's alma mater, upsetting Miami, 5-0, as the Eagles advanced to the Division I championship game, falling just short in a 2-1 loss to Wisconsin for the NCAA title.
Harrold would then sign with the Kings on July 12 and started the season in Manchester. Currently, Harrold ranks fifth in the AHL amongst rookie blue liners with his 5-20=25 in 48 games.
His play earned a call up on Nov. 21, 2006, and made his NHL debut the following night at San Jose where he recorded his first NHL point.
"That is the day every kid dreams up when you are playing hockey. I was real excited to get here and I was a little nervous."
Those nerves quickly turned into adrenaline as he would appear on the ice with the San Jose Sharks Joe Thornton, a player he watched while in college as the Bruins played just 20 minutes from the BC campus.
"I wasn't playing against him a whole lot that game as you are not going to want to match up a guy who just got called up from the minors with Joe Thornton, but I happened to be out there once and he is a horse.
"The way he protects the puck, you can't get it from him. You can't do much against him, you can just try and contain him. That was a real eye opening moment."
Harrold would appear in 10 games with the Kings before returning to Manchester, continuing his strong play and being named to the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star game, along with his teammate, fellow first-year defenseman TJ Kemp. Harrold had two assists in the All-Star game.
Over his last eight games in Manchester, he had scored 3-3=6 before being an emergency recall due to some injuries on the Kings blue line, just in time to catch a Kings road trip to Ohio and a chance to play in front of all of his family and friends.