Thirteen-year-old Kevin Carr had a decision to make. After being the go-to goaltender for the past six years, the Bantam AAA goalie had just received news that he had been cut his squad. Now the question remained: was he going to play AA hockey, a level down, or hang up the skates for good?
Ask any professional hockey player about their path and it usually begins with playing AAA level hockey with a local club. After making the decision to play at the AA level, Kevin Carr wasn’t going to be taking a conventional path.
“If there’s ever a guy who took all the back roads with every pothole, it’s Kevin,” said Randy Carr, Kevin’s father.
Freshly off of a professional try-out with the Vancouver Canucks, Kevin explained that, although it was heartbreaking, being cut from his Bantam AAA team is what motivated him to keep pushing forward.
“It took me a little while to realize I had taken playing on the AAA powerhouse team for granted,” explained Kevin.
Following his Midget year with the North Toronto AA squad, Kevin continued to play junior level hockey in the United States. Never one for sitting back, Kevin approached Buffalo State College to see if they had any interest in having him join their team.
“Thought I would give them [Buffalo State] a call and see if they had any interest,” said Kevin. “I went on a tour and they had offered me a position on the team. I committed in late July 2010 and went to school in September.”
After playing four 25-plus game seasons with Buffalo State – two of which he acted as alternate captain – Kevin joined the Tulsa Oilers of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) – an affiliate to the Winnipeg Jets. During the off-season, Kevin received news that he had been traded to the Alaska Aces – affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. It was in Alaska that Kevin received the offer of a lifetime.
“My new coach in Alaska had called me and said the Vancouver [Canucks] had shown interest and they needed another goalie in camp and sent me the contract,” explained Kevin. “Being able to wear and NHL jersey that I worked hard for means so much.”
Released from his PTO with Vancouver, Kevin will spend his season in Alaska, continuing to work hard to move up the ranks.
“My advice for kids that who think they don’t have what it takes to play at a higher level is to consistently work hard,” said Kevin. “I didn’t put the time in, in the off-season or during the season [in AAA] that was necessary to stay at that high level. Going to AA gave me the opportunity to learn and work hard in the off-season to become better.”