Mason McDonald’s first start as a Charlottetown Islander will be in his hometown.
The recently acquired McDonald gets the call tonight as the Islanders (15-20-1-4) travel to Halifax for a 7 p.m. contest with the Mooseheads (24-15-0-1).
“It’s exciting,” McDonald said before Thursday’s practice. “They’re a pretty good team. I am looking forward to the challenge and hopefully get a win out of it.”
The Islanders traded a first- and two fourth-round picks in the 2014 draft to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan for McDonald on Dec. 29.
The night before the 17-year-old goalie was in Charlottetown as the Titan’s backup. The day of the trade the teams met again in northern New Brunswick with McDonald serving as Charlottetown’s backup.
The first thing that often comes up when talking about McDonald is his size. At six-foot-three, 180 pounds, he is used to being one of the tallest players on his team.
“I definitely like to use my size to my advantage,” said McDonald, who plays a butterfly style game. “I think one of the strengths to my game is being big and being able to cover most of the net.”
He was the first goalie selected in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s 2012 draft when the Titan called his name with the second pick of the second round.
“We feel Mason is if not the best at his age in the league he is right up there,” said coach Gordie Dwyer. “He was a guy we targeted for a while and felt he has tremendous upside.”
It was the acquisition of McDonald that allowed the Islanders to move Antoine Bibeau to Val-d’Or. The Islanders have added an influx of youth to its lineup with seven deals since the trade window opened on Dec. 22.
“He has great hand-eye co-ordination, has great feet and plays the puck pretty well,” Dwyer said. “He’s the total package for us.”
Defenceman Ryan Graves played against McDonald in minor hockey while growing up in Yarmouth.
“He’s always kind of been one of the top-end goalies,” he said, noting they played together during a summer tournament in Montreal. “He’s a big goalie. He has a lot of talent.”
Newfoundland forward Nathan Yetman played with McDonald on Team Atlantic at last year’s under-17 world hockey challenge.
“He’s a good team guy,” Yetman said. “He’s fitting in well.”
Yetman said McDonald is quick and has a good glove.
McDonald, who backed up Jacob Brennan with the Titan, will push Eric Brassard for playing time in the Charlottetown crease.
“As long as I keep working hard I think I’ll get my fair share of playing time,” McDonald said.
u Who – Charlottetown Islanders goalie.
u Hometown – Halifax.
u Acquired – Dec. 29 from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan for a first- and two fourth-round picks in 2014.
u Top prospect – McDonald will play for Team Orr at the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 15 in Calgary.
u Statistics -
GP W L GAA SAVE%
13 3 8 3.57 .887
u Did you know? - McDonald started playing hockey when he was five and was a right-winger until turning to goalie when he was 10.
“I was a goal scorer,” he said.