After an injury-plagued freshman season, UMass Lowell goalie Doug Carr flew onto the scene for the River Hawks last season, and established himself as one of the top goalies at the collegiate level.
Carr struggled through a hip injury during his freshman season, which limited his ability in the crease. Carr struggled thoughout the season, finishing with a record of 4-13-3, a 3.63 goals-against average, and a .896 save percentage.
“It was tough to play through that injury because it nagged the entire year,” Carr said. “I didn’t want to get surgery during the season, so I decided to battle through it. In general it was just a frustrating season because we only had five wins all year.”
After off-season hip surgery, Carr took Hockey East by storm. All of Carr’s statistics skyrocketed, and so did his play. The goalie’s record was 22-10-1, he had a 2.13 goals-against average, and a .928 save percentage. Carr had four shutouts on the season, which ranked him 10th in the country.
“Last season, I was starting from scratch after my hip surgery, but I just worked hard with the coaches,” Carr said. “The team in front of me was a much different group and mentality, which also translated into my game and numbers. My stats were also a reflection of our team improvements as a whole.”
His performances last season helped UMass Lowell reach the second round of the NCAA tournament, and USCHO.com ranked Carr the No. 4 goalie in college hockey prior to this season.
In the first round of the NCAA tournament, Carr turned away 30 of 33 Miami University shots as the River Hawks snuck past Miami, 4-3. Union College beat the River Hawks in the second round, 4-2, which prevented a Frozen Four appearance.
“Doug had a very strong game (Miami), but we were up for most of it,” UMass Lowell coach Norm Bazin said of Carr’s playoff performance. “We had a little bit of a let down late, but Doug was certainly one of the better players on the ice for us. We had to kill a 5-minute major penalty, and we were able to do that. We scored right after, so if they had scored there who knows what happens.”
With his strong showing last season, Carr has also put himself on the map for the NHL. Carr, a junior, could finish his college career or he could sign at the end of this season, but either way there is an interest from pro teams in his services. He was invited to the Dallas Stars prospect camp this past summer, but because he tweaked his hamstring he decided to stay home.
“NHL teams know who Doug is,” Bazin said. “He is a free agent that they are watching, and since the NHL is not playing right now, [teams] are seeing a whole lot of him.”
With the addition of freshman goalie Connor Hellebuyck, Carr will also have more of an opportunity to stay fresh. Last season Carr, who played in 33 games, did not get much of a rest. With Hellebuyck, a Winnipeg Jets prospect, on the team, though, Carr wont have to be the workhorse he was last season.
“Unlike last season we now have two goaltenders that we can interchange on any given day,” Bazin said. “Doug is also someone we could ride, but keeping him [fresh] is also important.”
Some goalies that have to compete for ice time don’t always get along, but Carr and Hellebuyck have a good relationship. The older Carr has also emerged as a mentor for the freshman.
“It is always nice to have someone to compete with, and Doug is certainly able to give Connor some helpful pointers along the way,” Bazin said. “As we hit the stretch run with nothing but elite play, it is very crucial to have all the information you can get.”
Carr is one of the more positive guys around college hockey, and his attitude and work ethic has transitioned to the rest of the team.
“When I am on, my demeanor is my best asset because of what I can bring to the team,” Carr said. “I like to play calm and confident, and that usually can translate to the rest of the guys.”
If Carr and the River Hawks want to get back to the NCAA tournament it will take some of that demeanor as the team has struggled a bit this season. The River Hawks are 3-6-1 in Hockey East play so far this season, and are currently in eighth place.
Follow Richard Murray on twitter via @Richie_Murray