WATCH: Hamilton Bulldogs star keeps Team Canada alive ahead of junior world championship golden goal

By Nathan Sager

Published on August 21, 2022 at 6:30 am

Mason McTavish’s biggest play was not on any stat sheet. (Brandon Taylor, OHL Pictures)

Mason McTavish made a game-saving play with a slash, which counts clicks very quickly.

The Hamilton Bulldogs forward’s hand-eye coordination that snuffed out the game-winning goal in overtime in the World Junior Hockey Championship (WJC) final drew more astonished stares and gasps than the actual golden goal a few moments later. McTavish, who was Canada’s captain, tournament most valuable player and leading scorer, dropped the puck in the air inches in front of the Canadian net to thwart a deflection by Finland defender Topi Niemela in overtime during the WJC final in Edmonton on Saturday. .

In the ensuing transition, after McTavish came off the ice to end his shift in the sudden 3-on-3 winning session, Kent Johnson buried the game-winning goal for Canada. The goal gave Canada a 3-2 win and a gold medal for a team that included two Hamilton-area natives, Freelton defender Ethan Del Mastro, and Hamilton-born backup goaltender Sebastian Cossa.

Del Mastro is the captain of the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads. Team Canada head coach Dave Cameron was behind the franchise bench from 2007 to 2011, when it was known as Mississauga-St. Michael Majors.

“My stick was in the right place at the right time,” McTavish, who helped the Bulldogs win the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) title last season, told “I don’t even know why I was behind our goalkeeper (Dylan Garand). I’m just thinking about it now. But then I went to the bench and KJ (Johnson) was on a breakaway.

Suffice it to say, if the play was the only highlight of the rescheduled summer WJC due to COVID-19 that many Canadians chose to see, then they picked the right one. Two clips of it alone from high-profile hockey vloggers had over half a million views as of 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

The International Ice Hockey Federation had to cancel the 2022 tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the spread of the Omicron variant last winter, opting to restart it in August. The summer schedule and widespread public and political criticism of a spiraling sex abuse scandal at Hockey Canada largely diminished viewer interest in the tournament. The scandal relates to the way Hockey Canada, the national governing body for amateur hockey, has handled allegations of sexual abuse.

The main thing is not related to the current Junior Men’s National Team. The revelations – many of which came to light through media reporting by Rick Westhead – a reporter for host broadcaster TSN, led to sponsors severing ties with Hockey Canada. On Saturday, TSN prioritized a Toronto FC soccer game over the WJC gold medal game. In most cases, the gold medal game with Canada attracts viewers of over 11 million Canadians.

McTavish’s game-saving game and MVP performance which included eight goals and 17 points, the most of the tournament, also meant the Bulldogs were in a row with a player winning a WJC Gold Medal. In 2021, Arthur Kaliyev of the Bulldogs was Team USA’s third leading scorer when they won the gold medal. Kaliyev now plays in the Los Angeles Kings organization.

McTavish is a first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks who played in nine NHL games last season before being returned to the OHL, where the Bulldogs added him in a trade in January. He also laced them for Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics and was dominant with Hamilton, scoring 36 goals and 77 points in 48 regular season, OHL playoff and Memorial Cup tournament games.

At 19, the Carp, Ont., native’s playing options this coming season are to join Anaheim full-time or return to the OHL.

Bulldogs graduate forward Jan Mysak was also the Czech Republic’s fourth-place captain and leading scorer. Mysak, a 20-year-old Montreal Canadiens prospect, has five goals and eight points in seven games. While Czechia did not win a medal, their run to the bronze medal game (3-1 loss to Sweden) was only their second in the past 15 years.

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