Mason McDonald Was Just Fine Against Russia

The hockey media is mostly occupied with Hockey Canada’s Summer Showcase over at Winsport this week. I was in attendance at the Markin MacPhail Centre last night as Canada skated to a 4-1 win over a team from Russia.

Calgary Flames prospect Mason McDonald was in net, so I thought it was prudent to share my thoughts on how he played.

In short? He was fine.

There’s two ways to take “fine”, so I want to give some context.

He was fine, in the sense that he wasn’t horrible. Outside of giving up a goal just shy of four minutes into the game – on the third shot he faced, a wrister from about five feet inside the blueline – he didn’t give up anything. His body language improved as the game went on and his rebound control and ability to cut down angles and anticipate traffic was strong.

That said, he was also fine, in the sense that he wasn’t stellar. He was never really challenged, outside of a nice chance late in the game from Evgeni Svechnikov. He responded well late in the game, but overall he faced just 17 shots: 9 in the first period and 8 afterwards. On one hand, he wasn’t busy, but he also didn’t fall to pieces after that early goal or get rusty when he didn’t face shots for several minutes in the later stages of the contest.

He probably helped his chances, but I doubt he’ll win or lose a job on Team Canada at Christmas based on an August exhibition game against Russia. Brandon Hickey is expected to dress tonight against the Czech Republic. That game begins at 5:30pm MT on TSN2.

  • JayCMcG

    If Hickey & McDonald both play for team Canada at World Juniors I will be ecstatic. Sucks Mangiapane didn’t get any invite though, you’d have thought the 8th leading scorer in the OHL would get some consideration.

    • JayCMcG

      This is far from over. A big start to the season will have Mangiapane getting more consideration (which he already deserves, but whatever).

      Weird to think the Flames could have as many as seven players at the WJC this year, though. McDonald, Hickey, Mangiapane, Kylington, Andersson, Ollas Mattsson, and Karnaukhov all have varying chances at earning spots (Karnaukhov is Belarusian, but he’s played for Russia internationally before).

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Although I am super excited to see Mason play in this tournament, we should temper expectations for the player by looking back at past tournament “top” Canadian goaltenders given their NHL contributions. I’m not saying Mason is a bad prospect or anything, just that leading Canada in the World Juniors is not necessarily predictive of future NHL success.

    The list is as follows:

    2013- Jake Paterson
    2012- Mark Visentin
    2011- Olivier Roy
    2010- Jake Allen
    2009- Dustin Tokarski
    2008- Steve Mason/Jonathan Bernier
    2007- Carey Price
    2006- Justin Pogge
    2005- Jeff Glass/Rejean Beuchemin
    2004- Marc Andre Fleury
    2003- Marc Andre Fleury
    2002- Pascal Leclaire
    2001- Maxime Oulette/Alex Auld
    2000- Maxime Oulette/Brian Finley

    Some good names on that list to be sure, but some others… not so much. Let’s hope MacDonald falls in the Carey Price, Marc Andre Fleury mold vs. the Justin Pogge, Jeff Glass, Mark Visentin mold.

  • Reidja

    I wonder what his chance of making the team is. Who is he competing with? What are their club situations? How do you handicap his chance Ryan? Would he likely be the starter or #2? How much do we know at this point? He must be getting pretty familiar with Winsport etc. etc.

    • Howedy

      I’d argue that McDonald is the front-runner right now. The other two guys at camp this summer are MacKenzie Blackwood (who put up the same save% as McDonald in the OHL, which conventional wisdom says is an easier league for goalies) and Samuel Montembault, who played in the same league as McDonald and was much, much worse.

      They were all born in 1996 as well.

  • Howedy

    Probably the first semi-meaningful game he has played since being injured in the Q playoffs though right? So a goal 4 minutes in could be rust, 0 goals allowed for the rest of the game could be viewed as encouraging.

  • hulkingloooooob

    well…an August exhibition game….what more can you say. seems like a good game for first in a long while and the dead of summer….patience is key here…..

      • Burnward

        Yeah I noticed that too. He was out for special teams a lot but I think he was following McKeown in the rotation who seemed to get caught on some long shifts.

        Had some natural nasty to his game, skates well, good positioning and control, strong first pass. First time I’ve seen him and was quite impressed. Kid could be a huge win.

  • Christian Roatis

    Craig Button made a comment during the junior game that Calgary was interested in signing Hickey now and sending him to the Rebels in Red Deer. Anyone hear anything more?

    • Christian Roatis

      Red Deer Rebels picked up his Junior rights in a trade…does not mean anything if Hickey decides to stay at BU. Red Deer hosts the Memorial Cup this Spring, so when BU is done he can go play in Red Deer – Is that possible under CHL rules?

      • Christian Roatis

        Hickey is from Leduc, AB area. Apparently he’s tight with his family and playing closer to home could be an attraction. So….although he has said it is back to BU he may change his mind now that Red Deer would be close to home and family! His rights were previously held by Tri City.

          • Christian Roatis

            That is good to hear! A University education is important when a pro career is over or if his path to the NHL goes sideways.

            At 19, he would only play 1 more year of Junior. As he is already playing with older players and looking good, a move to junior may not be in his best interests.