2022 wjc mason mctavish 960

Embracing a nomadic season

Mason McTavish has played for eight different teams in the last 13 months, but the 19-year-old is embracing the opportunity to learn from new hockey minds along the way

Shannon Coulter
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February 9, 2022
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If you asked Mason McTavish where he was living this past year, it wouldn’t be a simple answer. He’s spent time in three countries and five cities, plus several short-term trips to represent Canada in international competition.

Overall, McTavish has played for five different club teams and now three turns with Team Canada, but the 19-year-old is thankful for each opportunity he has gotten.

“[With COVID-19], it’s been tough for some guys to play, but I’ve been lucky enough to play all around dating back to last February in Switzerland,” he says.

His travel journey began when the 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) season was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. Without a season to play with his Peterborough Petes, McTavish looked across the ocean and found an opportunity with EHC Olten in the Swiss League.

He scored nine goals and added two assists in 13 regular-season games, then added two goals and five assists in four playoff games before returning to North America. In May, he was off to Texas to represent Canada at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship, where he recorded five goals and six assists as an alternate captain in Canada’s gold-medal performance.

After going to the Anaheim Ducks with the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, McTavish began the 2021-22 season in Southern California, making his NHL debut with the Ducks on Oct. 13 against the Winnipeg Jets.

“It was pretty special for me, my family and everybody that’s helped me get to where I am,” he says of his first NHL game. “It’s kind of something that you dream of, and I was lucky enough to score [and add an assist] in my first game too, so that made it even [more special].”

McTavish became the youngest goal-scorer in Ducks history with his first NHL goal. Not only did he gain valuable experience on the ice, but he had the opportunity to socialize with veterans, like captain and fellow Team Canada alumnus Ryan Getzlaf.

“He’s obviously another Olympian too, and just to learn all the little things those kinds of guys do just in their day-to-day lives, how to treat people, how they go about their day, I think that’s pretty cool,” he says. “I thought it was a great experience. Hopefully I can stick there next year.”

After nine games in Anaheim, McTavish joined the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. He spent three games with the Gulls before he was reassigned to the OHL.

“Obviously, it’s not the news you want to hear, ‘You’re getting sent down,’ but it’s probably for the best,” he says. “You get to play a lot more [in junior hockey], play centre, stuff like that.”

The Carp, Ont., native had quite a performance in his homecoming game, scoring a hat trick in his first game back with the Petes. After four games with Peterborough, though, he was on the road again—this time to represent Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Although his World Juniors experience was unfortunately cut short when the tournament was cancelled on Dec. 29, McTavish enjoyed each moment wearing the Maple Leaf with Canada’s National Junior Team.

“It was short-lived, so that kind of sucks,” he says. “Meeting all the new guys and creating new friendships [was] pretty cool. I’m definitely fortunate for that.”

This season may have been filled with travel for McTavish, but that hasn’t taken away from his exceptional hockey skills and game performances.

“I think Mason is arguably the premier player in the [Canadian Hockey League],” says Jay McKee, head coach of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. “His abilities are off the charts. He’s got a great all-around game. He cares about playing on the defensive side of the puck but has elite skills and an elite shot.

“He really is the full package in one player.”

It was those qualities that led the Bulldogs to pursue the centre at the OHL trade deadline in January, resulting in a blockbuster trade that sent McTavish to Hamilton.

“I’ve never been traded before… so it was definitely different for me, but the guys in Hamilton were great about it and so was Peterborough. They made it a lot easier,” McTavish says. “It’s been great so far and I’m looking forward to going back.”

“He’s a fun kid. He’s got a great aura about him,” says McKee of his first impression of McTavish. “I learned quickly how much he just loves the game of hockey. He’s hard to get off the ice after practice, he stays out. And he just has a really positive personality.

“I think he really raised the level of intensity in our practices while also having fun with the guys.”

McTavish played three games with the Bulldogs before he got the call for his next adventure: donning the Maple Leaf at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Learning that he would be a member of Team Canada in Beijing was “super honouring” for the 19-year-old.

“To get the call to play in the Olympics, it was crazy,” he says. “I’m just going to soak up everything here.”

As the youngest member of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team (and the youngest since Paul Kariya in 1994), playing in the Olympics is another opportunity to learn and grow as a hockey player for McTavish. Like his time in the NHL, he is looking forward to playing and socializing with his veteran teammates, particularly captain Eric Staal.

“He’s a Stanley Cup winner, somebody who’s obviously a terrific player. I’m definitely excited to see how good he is on the ice. He seems like a great person, too.”

Having an Olympic experience on his résumé at such a young age will also provide a unique opportunity for his Bulldogs teammates cheering on McTavish from back home.

“It’s really neat for them to have a teammate go to the Olympics,” McKee says. “It’s something that’s unheard of, really, for OHL hockey players, and obviously we’re all pulling for him to bring the gold medal back.

“I’m sure our players will be asking him about the experience and we’re all very proud of him for representing the country. There really is no greater honour in the sport.”

This season may have included more hotel stays and less home-cooked meals than McTavish pictured, but he has appreciated every step along the way.

“[It] sounds like I’ve had 100 coaches in the last year, but it’s been pretty cool,” he says. “[I’ve] been fortunate to learn from so many different hockey minds.

“I’ve been through a lot of teams and cities. It’s been different, but [I’ve] enjoyed it. You meet the new team, new faces, new coaches and learn from a lot of new people. I think that’s probably going to be the biggest takeaway this year.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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