Daniel Carr has spent his Union hockey career on the left wing. Once in a while, he has had to play the role of a center and take the occasional faceoff.
But when freshman center Eli Lichtenwald left last Friday’s game against Bowling Green with a lower-body injury, the senior Carr was called upon by Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett to take on the center’s role.
Carr continued in that role the next night against the Falcons, and will do so again this weekend when the 16th-ranked Dutchmen (1-0-1) host Lake Superior State (2-0) in a two-game series tonight and Saturday at 7 at Messa Rink.
“It’s ironic,” Bennett said. “He came to see the coaching staff about playing center just to try to help the team out, which we appreciated. Watching tape, he did an excellent job of playing center. I say that after watching tape because he never stood out in a bad way or making mistakes. That was very positive.
“He’s always been a good all-around player, anyway. But to go there, could he have gone there his first couple of seasons? I don’t know that. But now that he knows the systems and doing extra work at Paul Vincent’s for his skating, which he has made a jump, and that has really helped him and allowed him to play center for us.”
Carr, one of the Dutchmen’s three alternate captains, took 10 faceoffs in Friday 3-3 tie against the Falcons, winning five of them. In Saturday’s 5-2 victory, Carr took a team-high 26 faceoffs. He won 11.
“He’s a willing player,” Bennett said. “He’s willing to get better at draws, he’s willing to play center. When you have a player that’s willing, the sky’s the limit. He’ll get better in that department. He works on it. He worked on it even last year, in case it happened on the power play.”
It was a little adjustment, at first. But Carr quickly got comfortable in his new role.
“I thought it went well,” said Carr, who scored a power-play goal Friday and had an assist Saturday. “I had a lot of help from [linemates] Daniel Ciampini and Mike Pontarelli on the wings, and a lot of help in the D-zone from the D-men talking. As a line, we were pretty good in our own ends, so we’ll try and build on that going forward.”
Playing center brings a different type of job for Carr to do.
“There’s a lot more different responsibilities in the D-zone,” Carr said. “As a winger, all you’re concerned about is taking the slot away and taking your D-man. Playing down low, you’ve got to read a lot, [know] when to jump guys and when not to jump guys. Just trying to remember when to go and when not to go was the biggest adjustment.”
Dutchmen defenseman and team captain Mat Bodie was impressed with Carr’s effort.
“I thought he did great,” Bodie said. “From my time here, there’s always been a senior centerman that really stepped up. I thought he did a good job for us on Saturday night. He’s a guy who will play where needed.”
The Dutchmen are meeting the Lakers for the second straight season. Last year’s two-game encounters in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., didn’t go well for the Dutchmen.
In the Jan. 4 contest, Domenic Monardo’s goal with 7:52 left in the first period snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted the Lakers to a 4-1 victory. The next night, Monardo did it again, scoring a tiebreaking power-play goal 42 seconds into the third period and giving Lake Superior State a 3-1 victory.
“We just have to be a little bit more prepared,” Bodie said. “They’re a physical team. I don’t think we were prepared for that last year as well as we could have been. But coming off the game against Bowling Green, where there was a lot of physicality, the guys will be ready for that.”
This is the Lakers’ first trip to Messa Rink. However, it’s not the first time they faced the Dutchmen in the Capital Region.
On Nov. 27, 2009, the teams played in the first round of the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament. The game ended in a 0-0 tie, but the teams used a shootout to see who would play in the championship game the next night. Mario Valery-Trabucco scored the only goal of the shootout to help the Dutchmen reach the final. . . .
The Lakers are coming off a two-game sweep of Robert Morris. . . .
Lake Superior State head coach Jim Roque was an assistant coach at Clarkson under Mark Morris from 1995 until 2001. Roque is in ninth season as the Lakers’ head coach and has a 122-146-45 career record.