OHL Classics: Andrew Raycroft
When Andrew Raycroft was traded from the Sudbury Wolves to the Kingston Frontenacs in 1999 after two OHL seasons, he admitted that he was looking for a fresh start.
Raycroft was coming off a productive 1998-99 season with the Wolves, but the team also had first-line starter Mike Gorman, and Raycroft hoped that a change of scenery would give him the spark he needed to take his game to the next level. He was right.
Raycroft quickly emerged as a star with the Frontenacs, turning aside 50-plus shots on regular occasions for the Kingston squad. He was a consistent choice as the OHL player of the week and at the end of the season was honoured with the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL's Most Valuable Player as selected by the media that cover the league to go along with his top goaltender award.
"It was a great year," Raycroft said. "We had a really good group of guys and a good team. We kind of tailed off closer to the end with injuries, but it was a great year. I was lucky enough to get a lot of shots against at a time when I was playing really well. It was obviously a big year for me. It was a lot of fun."
Raycroft, a Belleville, Ont. native, thanked Frontenacs' coach-general manager and former Belleville resident Larry Mavety when he accepted the trophy during the OHL's Awards Ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame that June.
"(Mavety) was very instrumental in my success," Raycroft said. "He played me all the time in Kingston. I was able to get on a roll and that allowed me to sign a pro contract. When I got to Kingston and was able to sign a contract, it clicked that I could make a living doing this."
The accolades convinced Raycroft that he had the ability to fulfill his dream of playing in the NHL.
"Growing up, I was never the biggest kid or the strongest kid," Raycroft said. "I was always able to get by. Once I got to Wellington (Tier II Junior A) and started talking to some OHL teams - that was when it started to kick in that I could at least go to junior and get a chance. I went to Sudbury and was able to get drafted and once I got drafted, I realized that I had a chance to be a pro."
That dream season prepared Raycroft for his professional debut the following year with the Providence Bruins. Three years later, Raycroft was in the NHL full time and brought home another prestigious award - the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. After six seasons in the Boston Bruins organization, Raycroft joined the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2006-08 before stops in Colorado, Vancouver and Dallas prior to the end of his NHL tenure in 2011-12.
Since retiring from a two-year stint in Europe in 2014, Raycroft now resides in Massachusetts where he serves as a studio analyst for Boston Bruins broadcasts on the New England Sports Network (NESN).
Raycroft is one of just six goaltenders to earn the Red Tilson Trophy, being joined by Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Sudbury 2020), Michael Houser (London 2012), Bill Harrington (Kitchener 1952), Glenn Hall (Windsor 1951) and Gil Mayer (Barrie 1949).
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Ontario Hockey League Stories from January 30, 2021
- OHL Classics: Andrew Raycroft - Kingston Frontenacs
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