Work­ing to im­prove

Ma­son McDon­ald en­joyed first pro sea­son, look­ing to take next step

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY 5)& (6"3%*"/

Ma­son McDon­ald got his feet wet and is now look­ing for more.

The for­mer Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders goalie com­pleted his first pro­fes­sional sea­son this year in the Cal­gary Flames’ farm sys­tem. He played 29 games with the ECHL’s Adiron­dack Thun­der, be­fore fin­ish­ing the year with a game for the AHL’s Stock­ton Heat.

“I got a lit­tle taste of the Amer­i­can league last year and I want to prove to Cal­gary that I can have a full­time spot in Stock­ton this year,” McDon­ald said.

“I know what the speed is go­ing to be like and what to ex­pect, so I just have to be ready to per­form at camp, give them a show­ing and make them keep me there.”

McDon­ald ad­mit­ted mak­ing the jump from ju­nior to the ECHL came with an ad­just­ment pe­riod at first. The play­ers were big­ger and stronger, and he was liv­ing on his own.

“Af­ter Christ­mas is when I re­ally started to set­tle in,” the 21-year-old Hal­i­fax na­tive said.

McDon­ald, who has two years left on his en­try-level con­tract, is work­ing on things like his core strength, track­ing pucks and mov­ing on the ice as part of his off-sea­son de­vel­op­ment plan. It tra­di­tion­ally takes longer for goalies to de­velop, as there are fewer op­por­tu­ni­ties with only two goalies per team.

“You just have to go out ev­ery day, put your best foot for­ward and try and show them that you de­serve to be at a higher level,” McDon­ald said. “That’s the mind­set I go into this sea­son with.”

McDon­ald sus­tained a con­cus­sion late in the sea­son when a Thun­der de­fence­man in­ad­ver­tently kneed him as McDon­ald came out to pokecheck the puck away from a play. He was out of the lineup for a cou­ple of weeks but re­turned to fin­ish the year in Stock­ton.

While in Adiron­dack, there were a few Is­land con­nec­tions.

For­mer UPEI Pan­thers Dana Fraser and Alex Wall were on the squad, and J.C. Cam­pagna joined them fol­low­ing the At­lantic Univer­sity Sport play­offs.

“We had some Mar­itime con­nec­tions there,” McDon­ald said. “Wally said he used to love liv­ing in P.E.I.”

McDon­ald will be back on the Is­land this week, tak­ing part in the Cana­dian Tire Celebrity Golf Tour­na­ment Thurs­day at the Links at Crow­bush Cove. He has played in the event the past two years, but this will be his first time play­ing in it on Prince Ed­ward Is­land, as the venue ro­tates through the Mar­itime prov­inces.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited to get back,” McDon­ald said, not­ing he will have a chance to catch up with friends and his for­mer bil­lets.

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Ma­son McDon­ald played his first pro­fes­sional sea­son this year with the ECHL’s Adiron­dack Thun­der.

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