Jr. Islanders U-18 goaltender Doug Connor committed to Princeton, he announced via Twitter.
“I’d seen a lot of schools, and when I came to Princeton it was a warm welcome with the site of the town,” Connor said. “It was a really nice town and the school looks great. And all the coaching staff, I just really liked them. They’re great guys.”
Connor, a 15-year-old, is committed to Princeton for the 2018-19 season and will enter as a true freshman.
“I had offers and there were some great schools in that list and I just kind of figured I’m in this position, why should I wait,” Connor said of his commitment.
The goaltender said he was looking at other ECAC as well as Hockey East schools.
“He’s probably top three in the country for goaltenders in the 2000 birth year. He’s way ahead of the curve due to his maturity, physically and mentally,” Connor’s coach Bob Thornton said.
“He’s a pro prospect down the road and very athletic. The rest is up to him.”
Over the Boards called Connor one of the top ’00 goaltenders in the United States.
00 G Doug Connor (@PALIslandersAAA U18) commits to Princeton. Big add in net, one of top '00 goalies in US, sharp, calm, good compete.
— Over The Boards (@OTBPuckWatch) September 13, 2015
Connor spent the past two seasons playing mostly U18 games as a 14-year-old and 15-year-old.
“He’s basically a veteran on our team. I think that shows a lot of maturity,” Thornton said. “You’re playing against 17 and 18-year-olds primarily at that level … [and] he’s played a ton of games, he’s been very good, he’s had some struggles here and there but the fact that he can be consistently strong at that level speaks for itself.”
The jump from bantam minors to a higher level of hockey coincided with Connor’s transition from middle school to high school.
“It’s a very difficult adjustment academically as well as athletically,” Connor said.
The competition features stronger, older players who are 97 birth years and above.
“[He’s] playing those kinds of kids that really should be playing junior hockey at this point,” Thornton said. [They’re] college committed kids that are men.”
Connor began playing hockey as a five-year-old, just after his family returned to the U.S. after living in Zurich, Switzerland for roughly two years. The 15-year-old said his mental perparation increased the most over the past few years.
“I really learned how to really get ready for a game and how to focus and what should you eat on that day of the game,” Connor said. “My mental game and my maturity was definitely one of the biggest jumps.”
Thornton said handling the competition on a game-by-game basis is Connor’s toughest challenge.
“He’s going to play a lot of games this year so he needs to focus on being really consistent. … I think he has to realize that every game is a must win, to have that mentality,” Thornton said.
“I think he does have that but being 15 and being thrown a majority of the work, it’s still something he’s learning as we go. … [He’s] a pretty polished goaltender for that age.”