By tough estimate, McTavish had over 150 totally different teammates this season enjoying with six separate groups
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Hamilton Bulldogs centre Mason McTavish has performed for extra groups in a single season than some gamers do in a profession.
By estimate, McTavish had roughly 150 totally different teammates this season as a member of the Anaheim Geese, San Diego Gulls, Peterborough Petes, Canada’s world junior workforce, Canada’s Olympic workforce and Bulldogs.
The third-overall choose within the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, McTavish might not bear in mind all of the teammates he’s performed with this season, nevertheless it’s seemingly, as a projected NHL star, they’ll all bear in mind him.
“It’s undoubtedly been quite a lot of hockey, nevertheless it’s one thing that I like to do,” McTavish mentioned Thursday earlier than the Bulldogs took on the Shawinigan Cataractes within the fourth recreation of the Memorial Cup. “I’m fairly lucky to play in so many alternative tournaments and leagues, particularly right here in Hamilton, and my essential focus proper now could be profitable the Memorial Cup.
“However it’s undoubtedly bizarre, it takes a bit of little bit of time to regulate to what league you play in and who you’re enjoying with. However it’s been fairly enjoyable enjoying within the NHL after which AHL, and even coming again to junior; it’s at all times actually enjoyable enjoying hockey. It’s been a enjoyable 12 months; it’s undoubtedly been totally different than a daily 12 months.”
Born in Zurich the place his father Dale performed professionally, McTavish returned to Switzerland two seasons in the past to play with EHC Olten because the COVID-19 pandemic all by worn out junior hockey. He performed with the Canadian Beneath-18 workforce within the spring and was chosen by Anaheim in final 12 months’s draft.
McTavish began this season with the Geese, turning into the youngest participant in franchise historical past to attain a purpose. He was despatched all the way down to play within the AHL earlier than returning to junior to play with the Petes. He then performed with Canada on the world junior championship earlier than COVID-19 shut down that match, which has since been rescheduled for August.
Shortly after returning to the OHL, McTavish was acquired by the Bulldogs in a blockbuster deal, which noticed two gamers, and three draft picks go the opposite method.
“I knew this workforce was fairly good, and as soon as I received right here, I used to be blown away with how good they had been,” McTavish mentioned. “I believe I solely misplaced one regular-season recreation enjoying right here. It’s fairly loopy to be part of a workforce like this and I’m actually lucky.”
McTavish was the ultimate piece of the Bulldogs’ championship puzzle. He had 14 objectives and 40 factors in 24 regular-season video games, then added 16 objectives and 29 factors in 19 playoff video games because the Bulldogs gained the OHL title, going 16-3 within the postseason.
“I didn’t know many guys on the workforce, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly simpler becoming in being an older man,” McTavish mentioned. “However similar to some other workforce, you spend extra time listening at first after which work your method in. They’re all nice guys and even the youthful guys are interacting with the older guys, so it’s not like another junior groups the place the older guys simply hang around with the older guys and the youthful guys hang around collectively.
“We have now an important group in there and it begins from the teaching workers, they do an important job integrating everyone in.”
Earlier than McTavish may actually get settled with the Bulldogs, he received the faucet to signify Canada on the Olympics after the NHL determined it could not ship gamers to China.
“The Olympics had been cool, they had been totally different,” McTavish mentioned. “It was cool being an 18-year-old and going to the Olympics and simply seeing the opposite athletes. Probably the most enjoyable was going to the opposite occasions and seeing all the opposite athletes. It was undoubtedly one thing I’ll always remember.”
Upon his return, McTavish helped lead the Bulldogs to the highest spot within the OHL standings. Hamilton swept by way of the primary three rounds of the playoffs earlier than needing seven video games to place away the Windsor Spitfires within the last.
Hamilton misplaced its first recreation of the Memorial Cup on Monday, falling 4-3 to the host Saint John Sea Canine, who had been eradicated within the first spherical of the QMJHL playoffs and had been coming off a 38-day layoff.
“For certain, I’ve created quite a lot of friendships this 12 months, and I believe I’ve in all probability grown the tightest to the blokes right here simply from being right here the longest,” McTavish mentioned. “Hockey is nice, you meet so many new individuals and also you create life-long friendships and I really feel so lucky to play and meet so many particular individuals.”
The Bulldogs really feel fortunate to have him and hope he might help them seize their first Memorial Cup championship. That is the second time the Bulldogs have been on the occasion, dropping within the semifinal of the 2018 match in Regina.
“Mason is a recreation breaker, he’s a man that may go on the market and actually flip it on and take management at instances within the recreation,” mentioned Bulldogs head coach Jay McKee. “He’s an important teammate, a extremely likeable individual, he loves the sport of hockey and has an actual aggressive edge to him that spills over to different gamers as effectively.
“On the similar time, he’s a man that may maintain issues free across the dressing room. I believe that’s good for our membership, I believe they play higher when everyone is free. And he’s been an actual impactful participant for us.”