Great ex­pe­ri­ence for goalie

McDon­ald en­joyed time with Team Canada, de­spite early elim­i­na­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

Ma­son McDon­ald re­turned home from Fin­land with­out the gold medal he had hoped for, but with mem­o­ries he won’t soon forget.

The Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders goalie played the first two games for Canada at the world ju­nior hockey cham­pi­onship. Canada was elim­i­nated in the quar­ter­fi­nal, fail­ing to reach the semi­fi­nal for the first time since 1998.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing that we didn’t get to medal,” McDon­ald said Wed­nes­day be­fore his first prac­tice back with the Is­lan­ders. “That’s the ex­pec­ta­tion of Hockey Canada - it’s gold ev­ery year and we didn’t ful­fill that.”

McDon­ald earned Canada’s only reg­u­la­tion win in Fin­land, a 6-1 vic­tory over Den­mark af­ter start­ing the tour­na­ment with a 42 loss to the United States on Box­ing Day. He ad­mit­ted there was a lot of pres­sure with the weight of the coun­try watch­ing in per­son or on TV.

“I really re­al­ized it the day be­fore the Box­ing Day game,” McDon­ald said. “I got a good sleep that night, but the next day I tried to take my nap and I was just shak­ing. I was so ex­cited and ner­vous. . .

“When I stepped on the ice it kind of all went away. It was like a thrill ride and it was really awesome.”

Canada was tied 2-2 with the Amer­i­cans with less than four min­utes to play. The win­ner was ac­ci­den­tally de­flected past McDon­ald by Cana­dian de­fence­man Joe Hick­etts. Forty-one sec­onds later a puck was tipped by a Cana­dian player and got past McDon­ald.

“At the end of the day there was some bad bounces and it’s un­for­tu­nate it un­folded like that, but there’s noth­ing you can do, you just have to move on,” McDon­ald said.

Af­ter de­feat­ing Den­mark, McDon­ald was rel­e­gated to the bench with the re­turn of Macken­zie Black­wood from sus­pen­sion.

“Be­ing apart of the team was all that mat­ter to me,” McDon­ald said. “I wanted the gold medal, just like they all did, and I was go­ing to do what­ever it took.”

Un­for­tu­nately it wasn’t meant to be. Some undis­ci­plined penal­ties cost Canada in their fi­nal game of the tour­na­ment against the even­tual champs from Fin­land.

“I don’t think we reached our full po­ten­tial,” McDon­ald said. “It’s un­for­tu­nate in a short tour­na­ment you can’t re­group like a 70-game sea­son.”

The Calgary Flames draft pick said his at­ten­tion has quickly turned to his club team. He ar­rived home Sun­day and re­joined the Is­lan­ders Tues­day in Hal­i­fax.

“I’m ex­cit­ing to get back,” McDon­ald said. “It’s go­ing to be an in­ter­est­ing sec­ond half. Hope­fully we can climb up in the stand­ings.”

HOCKEY CANADA IM­AGES

Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders goalie Ma­son McDon­ald played for Canada at the world ju­nior hockey tour­na­ment in Fin­land. He went 1-1 with a 2.52 goals-against av­er­age and a .861 save per­cent­age.

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