It's easy to spot Joseph Carvalho among the Prince George Cougars defensive corps.
"Everyone's pretty much six-feet or over and then there's me kind of down there," said the five-foot-seven Burnaby native. "I've just kind of got my own little role. I have to provide offence in this group from back there."
Carvalho may look up to his teammates but when he works his magic with the puck, turning Western Hockey League opponents inside out with his slick moves, it's apparent why the Cougars drafted him in the fourth round (73th overall) in the 2010 bantam draft.
Carvalho has played in 10 of the Cougars 13 games this season, scratched from the starting lineup for the last two-game road trip in Kelowna and Spokane in order to heal a few bumps and bruises he had accumulated in previous games.
Prince George head coach Dean Clark said when the opposition starts to get under the Cats' skin Carvalho has proven he's a reliable guy to tap on the shoulder to steer things back in their favour.
"He's very calm and makes some good solid plays," said Clark.
Cougars assistant coach Jason Becker, who works with the team's defencemen, concurs with Clark on Carvalho's ability to stay cool under pressure.
"He's does that well," said Becker. "He's able to elude defenders or he can make a tight turn and a skate move to get away from an attacker."
Before joining the Cougars for his 17-year-old season - Carvalho celebrates his birthday Nov. 6 - he spent two seasons in the B.C. Major Midget League with the Vancouver NW Giants, scoring nine goals and 52 points in 70 regular season games. He added nine points (one goal) in the playoffs.
When the Giants earned a trip tot he Telus Cup in the 2010-11 season, Carvelho played seven games, notching four helpers. Last season, he suited up in six WHL games for the Cougars, including a couple as an emergency replacement at forward.
"He did a great job up there," said Becker. "What he's really got going for him is his ability to see the ice and his ability to make plays under pressure. As a coach you like seeing that from a young player like him because he's only going to get better with age."
Carvalho is still awaiting his first WHL goal but has contributed a pair of helpers for the Cougars this season and has received time on the second power-play unit.
"Whenever I get the chance to go out there I just try to make the most of it," said Carvalho. "So far it's been pretty good. I'm just getting used to it right now but as the season goes on it's going to get better."
Carvalho and the Cougars (6-7-1) are back in action tonight (7 p.m.) at CN Centre against the Brandon Wheat Kings who had a 7-5-2 record prior to their Friday game in Kamloops.