Working to improve
Mason McDonald enjoyed first pro season, looking to take next step
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.
Mason McDonald played his first professional season this year with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder.