Andrew Raycroft began his pro hockey career with the Bruins during the 2000-01 season, splitting his time between Boston and Providence.
He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2004 and remained in the organization until June 24, 2006, at which time he was dealt to Toronto for Tuukka Rask.
Raycroft went on to play for Colorado, Vancouver, and Dallas before finishing his career in Europe, playing a year in Italy and last season in Sweden.
Now the father of three, Raycroft is retired and this season is working as the volunteer goaltending coach for the University of Connecticut as he transitions into the next phase of his life. Although he didn’t specifically have designs on coaching, he said it has been a good experience and one that has enabled him to spend a lot of time with his wife, Erin, and his 5½-year-old son and 21-month-old twins after several years of changing destinations.
He said by Christmas of 2013 he knew it was time to wrap up his playing career because he wanted more stability for his family.
“It was an amazing experience for all of us but we just couldn’t do it another year, there was just no way,” said Raycroft, 34. “Hockey was fun but it wasn’t enjoyable enough to keep playing.”
UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh was looking for some help with his goaltenders during the program’s first year in Hockey East. A friend of his, Jordan Neumann, who happens to be Raycroft’s agent, made the recommendation. Raycroft and Cavanaugh met for coffee and the two made a connection.
“It’s a volunteer position,” said Raycroft. “They allow me to kind of come and go. I will get down there for at least one full day a week. They’ve been great, it’s super flexible for me.”
On the days he’s on campus, he skates with the goalies in the morning and attends practice in the afternoon before heading home for dinner with the family in Sudbury.
“I’ve left my wife on her own, far too often,” said Raycroft. “I can’t just leave her with three kids four or five nights a week.”
Raycroft said it has been fun to stay involved in hockey.
“I enjoy it when I’m down there, when I get into it and get out on the ice and watch the video,” said Raycroft. “Mike Cavanaugh [and his staff] have been great. They are fun to be around. It’s fun being at the start of it down there. It’s pretty exciting to see the way the season has gone.”
Raycroft said it has been a revelation to watch sophomore Rob Nichols, who has a .918 save percentage and 2.71 goals-against average.
“He has been amazing, he really has,” said Raycroft. “He has worked really hard. He has had some huge games and probably stole four or five flat out. Hopefully, he can steal a few more down the stretch.”
As far as long-term plans go, Raycroft said he doesn’t have any yet but will consider his options after UConn’s season ends.
“It has kept me busy but it’s not [a full-time] commitment,” said Raycroft. “I’m hoping to get through the summer and next fall, I’ll try to network a little bit and see if somebody has a good idea for me to do. It’s definitely different when you’re not playing. You spend a lot of time at home but it was the right time to quit.”
Raycroft still has ties to the Bruins. He keeps in touch with Ryan Nadeau, the director of hockey operations, and he is close friends with Loui Eriksson from their time spent in Dallas.
“Other than that, it’s Patrice [Bergeron],” said Raycroft. “He is the only guy who was there when I was there. It’s already been 10 years [since he left]. That’s an eternity in the NHL.”
York chasing milestone
veteran coach Jerry York is closing in on 1,000 victories. He will be chasing No. 982 Friday when the No. 10 Eagles (18-10-2, 11-6-2) host No. 16 UMass-Lowell (17-10-4, 10-7-2). The Eagles are guaranteed their 18th consecutive winning season under York and 74 out of 93 in the program’s history . . . Bentley (16-11-3, 14-7-3) heads into a weekend series at Army tied with Mercyhurst for second in Atlantic Hockey. The teams have 31 points, seven behind Robert Morris with four regular-season games remaining. The Falcons have won five straight contests, the latest of which was a 3-1 home triumph over Sacred Heart. That streak ties the program’s Division 1 record. The last squad to do so was in 2008-09 when the Falcons won five from Jan. 24-Feb. 7, 2009 . . . No. 14 Harvard (13-8-3, 9-6-3) faces a stiff challenge this weekend with trips to No. 20 St. Lawrence (16-11-3, 12-5-1) and Clarkson (11-15-4, 8-8-2) before playing in the long-awaited Beanpot Tournament consolation against BC on Monday night at TD Garden. Harvard has 21 points, which puts the Crimson in fourth place, one behind Yale and 10 behind ECAC-leading Quinnipiac. After four straight defeats, including a double overtime loss to BU in the Beanpot semifinals, the Crimson have righted the ship with a win and a tie in the last two outings.Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.