Craig Douglas hasn’t stepped onto the ice for the Fife Flyers yet this season, but what some might not know is that he is on a two-way deal with the team while focusing on getting back to the top flight with the Kirkcaldy Kestrels.
Douglas’ season came to an abrupt end during a game against the Dundee Stars. The 29 year old Netminder explains the moment he knew his season was over. With an undisclosed lower body injury, he was done. “I didn’t just tear it, or pull it, it full on snapped. I’ve never felt pain like it.” He explained when I recently spoke to him. He knew at that point he wouldn’t be pulling on a Flyers jersey again that season. He was taken to a local hospital and his worst fears were confirmed. “You’ve snapped your hamstring.”
Coming back from an injury like that is a hard road. For a while, even trying to get out of bed was an excruciating ordeal. “I couldn’t even get out of bed without passing out from the pain.” This was back in 2017.
Craig stepped down from the Flyers, after such a big injury he wanted to give himself a chance to heal properly. He then injured himself off the ice at the start of the following season, which only proved he’d done the right thing. Playing with the Kestrels is giving him the chance to prepare himself for the jump back up and into top flight competition.
“My ultimate goal is of course to be back with the Flyers full time. The last season I played with the Flyers obviously didn’t end the way I wanted it to, with getting injured but it was really nice to get that call up this year.”
With the return of fellow Scottish Netminder Jordan Marr in the 2017-18 season it gave Craig the much needed time to really focus on his recovery. He underwent many different therapies on his way back to the ice. “I also took the time to really focus on my career, it gave me the time I needed to really study. Ice hockey really took a backseat for me, becoming more of a hobby than a job. At some point that is something you really need to think about. A lot of hockey players don’t have another option when they retire from playing and it takes some time to find their life after hockey, I had the chance to get a headstart.”
Craig played his first game with the Flyers while only 16, before moving onto the Dundee Stars and the now defunct Edinburgh Capitals. He then stepped away from hockey for a few years to go to University and study for his degree, which he ultimately gained.
When the Kestrels started back up again, he took a recreational view of hockey and got back into it on a hobby basis. “I’ve been lucky that way, to be able to have time when hockey wasn’t a job for me. It was towards the end of my first year of training with the Kestrels that the opportunity for Fife came around again and I signed with them. It was something I didn’t really expect. To be able to work my way back up and get a chance with the Flyers was a big deal to me.”
“Weeks after I was born, my mum took me to the rink.” Growing up in Kirkcaldy, the Fife Flyers were always part of Craig’s life. “My mum was a big Fife Flyers fan and took me to games. As soon as I could walk, around my second Christmas, she took me skating for the first time. Back then you couldn’t play hockey until you were five, so I had to wait until then. I was a player for two or three years before I was allowed to be in goal.”
His family would always sit behind the goalie in those early years of him watching the sport. Seeing the padded players with the cool masks up close every single week inspired a young Craig and he wanted nothing more than be between the pipes. Mum however, had other ideas. “It’s too expensive.” She told a young Douglas.
That however, did not deter a young Craig and when his junior team offered him their spare goalie kit, he didn’t hesitate. Dreams have no price tag and Craig was strapped into the second hand gear for the first time. “I managed to convince her that that was what I wanted to do.”
As he grew older, his hockey adventures moved outside of Bonnie Scotland. Steve Briere, current goalie coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs, at one time played for Fife and invited Craig to a number of goalie camps in Winnipeg when Craig was only a teenager. “I did that every summer for three or four years. I was invited to stay in his home and train in the summer. Growing up in the UK, the training for young goalies wasn’t what it is now and you had to travel if you wanted good training. It’s good to see its improving now.”
As for regaining his wings and playing for the Flyers again, Craig believes it won’t be long. “I’m training predominantly with the Flyers now, I play occasionally for the Kestrels to get myself match fit but I’m very much in the Flyers dressing room.” He explains. “Obviously Andrew is an up and coming goalie and will be the future of Fife, I have a great relationship with Shane and we feed off each other. Even when I’m not playing I’m always talking to him between periods and speaking through plays and goals etc. Shane will always be the number one and he is brought in to do that job. We can only be ready to step up when needed.”
Craig Douglas has his wings once more. Strong and ready to help the mighty Fife Flyers command the top of the league. Where once he was broken, his strength and fight restored, he’s ready to step up and take flight.
Photo courtesy of Craig Douglas’ Instagram.