Matt MacKay might be playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, but the 17-year-old transplanted German is hoping all the world will be his stage in the immediate future.
The 5-foot-11 Calgary resident is anxiously waiting to see if he has been selected to the final Canada
West roster for the 2008 World Junior A Challenge at Camrose from Nov. 2-9.
"I'm crossing my fingers all the time," smiled the slick centre with the Calgary Canucks. "It'd be an unbelievable experience . . . it'd really be exciting to go out there with all those great players."
MacKay, who is high on the recruiting list of several U.S. colleges, was one of four Canucks invited to the recent Alberta prospects camp. Canada West coaching and scouting personnel will evaluate players from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C. and name a final roster on Oct. 15.
The same process applies for the Canada East team.
Whether he makes it or not, MacKay's future seems to be clearly defined. Not only are several U.S. colleges interested in recruiting him, but the German junior team has issued an invitation to attend its world junior camp.
Although he was born and raised in Schwenegen in Black Forest country, he's not sure that's going to happen "because right now my passport isn't working out so I don't think it's going to happen."
The son of a former player and now a player agent, MacKay has chosen to go the college route in this, his second season with the Canucks.
There were opportunities in the Western Hockey League with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
"I remember my first WHL camp where I came right out of bantam, a little five-foot-two guy with a bunch of old guys with beards," he said.
"It was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make in my life, going to the WHL or going to college, but I'm never going to look back on it as to what could have been or whatever. I'm always going to look forward."
MacKay, who packed on 20 pounds to raise his weight to 175 this season, was among the league's top rookies last season with 27 goals among 61 points. He has burst out of the gates this season with nine goals and 14 points through 12 games.
"He's a very, very competitive player," said Canucks long-time head coach Don Phelps. "He has a knack for scoring goals, is very offensive oriented and is getting a lot of attention, as he should be.
"He's very good from an offensive perspective, but I think he has to work a bit on his play away from the puck. I think that can be said about a lot of players who are good offensively, but that'll come."
The more room afforded MacKay, the more dangerous he is, employing that early training on German ice when the emphasis was on skating, stickhandling and passing.
He is accustomed to North American hockey now, though, having played his Bantam and Midget AAA hockey in Calgary, so he isn't afraid to play with a gritty edge when necessary.
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