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Sydney Mitsubishi Rush’s Nick Mahar focused on team, not league scoring race this season

In this file photo, Nick Mahar of the Sydney Mitsubishi Rush watches the play during Nova Scotia Under-18 Major Hockey League action at the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre. Mahar is currently tied for the league-lead in goals (11) early this season. JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRETON POST
In this file photo, Nick Mahar of the Sydney Mitsubishi Rush watches the play during Nova Scotia Under-18 Major Hockey League action at the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre. Mahar is currently tied for the league-lead in goals (11) early this season. JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRETON POST
SYDNEY, N.S. —

Nick Mahar may be tied for the most goals in the Nova Scotia Under-18 Major Hockey League, but you wouldn’t know by talking to him.

Although pleased with his early offensive production this season, the Sydney Mitsubishi Rush captain isn’t focusing his attention on the league scoring race, but rather helping his team find success.

“I want to do whatever I can to help my team win,” said Mahar. “Whether it’s scoring goals, being on the defensive side or getting assists, I want to do whatever I can do to win.”

Currently, Mahar is tied with Cape Breton Eagles prospect Kian Bell of the Steele Subaru Majors of Dartmouth in goals (11). He’s also third in points (16) in the league, only behind Bell and Cape Breton West Islander James Beaton.

“I worked hard in the offseason to get stronger and quicker and I think it’s showing so far,” said Mahar. “I didn’t change much from my game last year, I’ve been getting to the dirty areas, working hard and letting my skill take over.”

The Sydney native entered the 2020-21 campaign coming off a breakout year with the Rush. He recorded a team-high 21 goals and 41 points in 34 games in 2019-20 – five of his goals came on the power play.

This season, Mahar is playing on a line with veteran forwards Riley Seymour and Logan O’Neill. The 17-year-old credits his linemates for his season to date.

“Riley is one of the hardest workers that I’ve played with in my life,” said Mahar. “Logan is an unreal hockey player, he’s really smart, so I think the three of us complement each other pretty well.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rush team was scheduled to host the Telus Cup national under-18 major championship at the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre in April.

Because of the pandemic, the team’s hosting rights were moved to 2022. Unfortunately, Mahar won’t be part of the team for the tournament, but it hasn’t stopped his motivation.

“It’s kind of a bummer that we won’t get to host this year, but I still want to go to the Telus Cup,” said Mahar. “We’re working on our goals one step at a time and making it to the national final event is definitely on the list.”


CAREER STATISTICS:
• 2017-18 – Joneljim Cougars (Under-15 Major) – Games Played: 32 – Goals: 18 – Assists: 16 – Points: 34 – PIM: 12
• 2018-19 – Cape Breton Unionized Tradesmen (Under-18 Major) – Games Played: 36 – Goals – 7 – Assists: 17 – Points: 24 – PIM: 20
• 2019-20 – Sydney Mitsubishi Rush (Under-18 Major) – Games Played: 34 – Goals: 21 – Assists: 20 – Points: 41 – PIM: 30
• 2020-21 – Sydney Mitsubishi Rush (Under-18 Major) – Games Played: 10 – Goals: 11 – Assists: 5 – Points: 16 – PIM: 8


After being passed in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft in 2019, Mahar decided to turn his attention to the NCAA route and not focus on playing major junior.

“I thought I should have been picked,” said Mahar of his first year of eligibility. “I talked it over with my parents and my coaches and ultimately determined that the NCAA was the best route for me.

“Education is huge for me, so I’d love to get my education paid for and play hockey at the same time – I want to find the right spot.”

In an interview with the Cape Breton Post in June, Eagles general manager Jacques Carrière said the team was willing to draft Mahar or invite him to the club’s training camp prior to being told of his intentions to play NCAA.

As of now, Mahar has not received an offer to play NCAA, however, he remains hopeful those calls will begin shortly.

Meanwhile, the Rush are currently in sixth place in the eight-team league with a 4-6-0-0 record. The league is currently on pause due to COVID-19 restrictions recently put in place by the provincial government.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s better safe than sorry,” said Mahar of the current situation. “I know we’re going to get back out there for games at some point – this break gives me and my teammates more time to get ourselves to where we need to be.”

While teams in the Halifax Regional Municipality are unable to be on the ice, the Rush are fortunate to still be allowed to practice given the low number of COVID-19 cases in Cape Breton.

“We weren’t playing as a team as much as we should have before now,” said Mahar. “We’re working on bonding and making it more of a team atmosphere and I think we’ve already begun the process.”

Mahar believes the Rush can be a team to surprise the league this season, which he says has already been proven early on.

“We played the Halifax McDonalds and we were up 3-0 with four minutes to play and we buckled,” said Mahar of one of the league’s top teams.

“They came back and beat us, but that shows we can play with the top teams – I think there’s better to come for the Rush.”

Sydney was scheduled to be in Bridgewater this weekend to play the South Shore Mustangs. Both games will be rescheduled for a later date.

As the number of positive cases remains high in the Halifax area, the league has not set a date to return to full operation, meaning it’s unknown when the Rush will play again this season.

Jeremy Fraser is the sports reporter for the Cape Breton Post. He's been with the publication for four years. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @CBPost_Jeremy 

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