Toledo goalie Mac Carruth, right, is a rookie with the Walleye. The netminder has jumped playing between Toledo and with the American Hockey League team in Rockford all season.
BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge
As a Wyoming native, Walleye goalie Mac Carruth hasn't minded the extraordinarily brutal and frigid conditions that have gripped the area.
The rookie netminder said this once-in-a generation polar blast makes him feel at home where he skied and hiked in the heavy snow as a youth.
Jersey number: 31
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 176
Hometown: Jackson, Wyoming
Favorite way to spend time away from the rink: In the offseason, I like hiking in Jackson (Wyo.). I like to be on the rivers and lakes, too. In season, I do a lot of gaming with my roommate (Joe Gleason).
Hockey player you admired growing up: Patrick Roy
Favorite sport other than hockey: I played football, baseball, and lacrosse growing up. I like watching the X Games.
Favorite type of music: Country
Favorite meal? Steak and sweet potatoes
Have you ever eaten walleye? Yes. It's good.
Favorite beverage: Water
Best fast food: Chipotle
Favorite movie: Lone Survivor
Favorite TV shows: Duck Dynasty, Dukes of Hazzard.
Favorite video game: Call of Duty
Favorite Web site: Netflix
Do you have a twitter account? @maccarruth31
Person you most admire: Dad (Bob)
If you could meet any person who would it be? Johnny Depp
Favorite place you've been to? Cancun
Nickname: “The Truth.” Sometimes “Big Mac.”
What would you be doing if you weren't playing hockey? Something to do with hockey. Maybe coaching.
What profession would you not like to do? An office job.
What's the best thing about playing in Toledo? I like being around the guys.
Something nobody knows about you: My real name is Macmillan.
Instead Carruth said the the greater adversity has been the struggles of the Walleye on the ice.
“I'm used to a lot of snow,” said Carruth, who grew up in Jackson, Wyoming. “I thought this was normal here until [trainer Brad Aleo] told me it's very abnormal. I really like it.”
Carruth also was used to consistent success as a junior hockey player. Carruth, 21, backstopped the Portland (Oregon) Winterhawks to a Western Hockey League title last season.
So Carruth admitted he has been challenged by Toledo's struggles. The Walleye (13-22-2) had fallen 10 games below .500 before breaking a four-game losing streak on Sunday.
“This year has been a big test,” Carruth said. “Fortunately I've not been on a lot of losing teams. We're battling adversity. There will be slumps in every season. But not usually big ones like we are having.”
Carruth snapped his personal seven-game losing streak in Toledo's 4-2 win over Greenville on Sunday. Carruth (5-9-0) made his fifth consecutive start and posted 25 saves.
“This may actually be a good thing in my career,” Carruth said. “You learn to dig a little deeper and find that extra gear. As a goalie you have to not let frustration creep into your game. You have to keep stopping pucks and give the guys a chance to win.”
Carruth's goals-against average of 3.20 and his .903 save percentage are the best among the three goalies that have suited up for the Walleye this year.
Carruth, a seventh round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, won 117 games for Portland over four seasons. He had a 2.06 GAA and .929 save percentage and set a franchise record in career postseason wins with 30.
“I played for some great teams in Portland,” Carruth said. “We had lost in the WHL championship twice before. We were fortunate enough to win it the third time. It was an unbelievable year. I'll never forget that group of guys.”
The major-junior organization has produced dozens of NHL players including Mark Messier, Cam Neely, and Adam Deadmarsh.
Carruth took his first step toward the highest level by starting his professional career with a win in his pro debut with 32 saves in a 4-3 victory over Fort Wayne in the season opener.
“The pros are a bit quicker,” Carruth said. “Most guys can shoot the puck here. In the WHL only one or maybe two lines can shoot the puck like this.”
Perhaps the biggest adjustment has been the uncertainty of where he will be playing on a daily basis. Carruth has already been called up to Toledo's American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford on two occasions.
“It is tough,” Carruth said. “You're not just sitting by your phone, but you have to be ready at all times to be packed up and on the road in a few hours. It's something people might not think about. It's a roller coaster. It's a weird way to live.”
Carruth was just getting settled in with the Walleye when he was called up on Nov. 17. He had played in eight games with Toledo and had a 4-3-0 record with a 2.50 GAA.
“The first time was a bit of a shock,” he said. “I had all these questions. But now I have the hang of it. I'm dialed in. I have a suit ready to go at all times.”
Carruth was promoted back to Rockford on Jan. 4. He has played in seven games for Rockford and has a 2-2-1 record with a 3.36 GAA.
“The AHL is a just one step down from the NHL,” Carruth said. “You're one step away from being in the greatest league in hockey. The talent level up there is pretty unbelievable.”
Toledo's roster has been ravaged by similar call ups and the team is currently without its top three scorers.
The promotions have been a double-edged sword for coach Nick Vitucci, whose team remains in last place in the Eastern Conference.
“There is no better feeling regardless of our situation when you can tell a guy [he's been called up],” he said. “You've helped guys get one step closer to their dream.”
Carruth, who is a big goalie at 6-foot-3, said he likes to play the puck.
“I'm pretty technically sound. I think I have the athletic ability to scramble,” he said.
Carruth said his father was a goalie for a recreational-league team and ran a rink in Wyoming.
“I was always at the rink and I loved watching him play goalie,” Carruth said. “That drew me to the sport.”
Carruth moved to Minnesota when he was 10. He later moved by himself to the Chicago area when he was 14 to live with a host family while he pursued his junior career.
“It was tough to leave. My mom wasn't a big fan of the decision,” he said. “I was a freshman in high school. But I had a great family I stayed with. They are still close friends. It helped me out in the long run.”
Vitucci and Carruth both said that they haven't looked at the standings in a while.
“We aren't talking playoffs, we're talking about winning small battles per game,” Vitucci said.
Carruth said it's too exhausting to focus on the standings.
“You have to have a winning attitude and break things down — even by shift by shift,” he said.