EDMONTON—Mason McTavish is about as old school a hockey player you’re going to find in a 19-year-old.
There he was, chasing history on a Thursday night with four goals, and not a single big celebration, unusual for his generation which coined the term “celly.”
A lopsided victory — 11-1 over Slovakia — only had a small part in McTavish’s business-as-usual approach.
“I’m not the biggest celebrator,” said McTavish, an Anaheim Ducks prospect. “Unless it’s a Game 7 OT win or something like that, I don’t really tend to get too excited. Maybe you’ll find a clip of me (celebrating) if I was on a dry spell. I don’t really like to celebrate too much.”
McTavish’s four-goal game tied a Canadian record for most goals in a single game. He joins a small list that includes Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagné, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Raddysh, Maxime Comtois and teammate Connor Bedard, who did it in December’s cancelled tournament.
“It’s pretty cool for sure,” said McTavish. “Special moment. Obviously credit to my teammates. They were looking for me all game.”
But even though he knows he’s scored before and he’ll score again, he still wanted the record: five.
“He told us he wanted five, me and Bedsy (Connor Bedard),” said Brennan Othmann, who was promoted to the first line in the third period. “We fed him, he got the fourth and we just kept trying to keep finding him. And that’s too bad. But hopefully he gets another shot later on this tournament. We think he can do it. He knows he can do it. He had a great game, so it was super fun to watch.”
Bedard had a goal and an assist, Othmann had a goal and two assists, and Josh Roy, who started on the first line, had a goal and three assists. McTavish ended with four goals and two assists.
“Connor scored in December and he was aware (of the record),” said McTavish. “I didn’t even know. And then he told me. He and Otter (Othmann) were trying to get me five. So yeah, it was a special night.”
Coach Dave Cameron wasn’t about to overplay McTavish in the third period, record on the line, or not.
“I don’t know records, I wouldn’t have a clue,” said Cameron. “But I do know four goals, you’re chasing something. But you always judge that, too. If your best player was to get hurt in a 10-1 game because you were chasing the record, you wouldn’t sleep for a long time.”
McTavish leads Canada with eight points (four goals, four assists) in two games.
“He’s our captain. He’s an NHL player,” said Cameron. “And I don’t think anybody’s surprised by his hockey IQ and what he brings to the ice. But what really impresses me is his attitude. He has no ego … He’s fully engaged in (this tournament) and obviously his performance tonight shows that.”
McTavish was the third pick in the 2021 draft by Anaheim. Last season, he played for the Ducks (and got his first two NHL goals), the San Diego Gulls of the AHL, the Peterborough Petes, the Hamilton Bulldogs (with whom he want to the Memorial Cup) as well as the national junior team and the Canadian Olympic team.
“It’s just the type of person he is,” said forward Logan Cuylle, who had a goal and an assist. “A selfless person and somebody that wants to represent their country. And he’s played so much hockey this past year, he’s been all over the place. So for him to come back and to play with us again here, he’s a big part of our team and that’s why he’s our captain.”
McTavish got three goals in the second, one in the third.
“We got off to a good start and I think he just had the one assist, but then he kind of blew it all up with his four goals,” said Cuylle. “One of those nights that’ll go down in the record books.”
As unusual as it might be to point the winning goaltender in a lopsided affair, Dylan Garand, a prospect for the New York Rangers, had a terrific game in stopping 22 of 23 shots.
Slovakia had more chances on him than Latvia did on Canada’s other netminder, Sebastien Cossa, in the opener. Slovakia was even with Canada in shots at one point in first period — 11-11 — even with Canada up 3-0. There was a breakaway Garand swept away, a penalty he helped kill and a mad scramble or two in front of him as he made life difficult for Slovakian shooters. Only Matej Kaslik beat him.
“I think I did a good job of doing my job,” said Garand. “Whenever you get to play for this team, it’s obviously a lot of pressure. For me tonight, I just really kind of take things one shot at a time. If I need to make a save, I try to make a save.”
The Slovaks — whose hockey program is on the rise — had their roster hurt when the Montreal Canadiens declined to allow Juraj Slafkovský, the top pick in the 2022 draft, and Filip Mešár, another first rounder, to play in the tournament, nor did the New Jersey Devils allow No. 2 pick Šimon Nemec to play.
Logan Stankoven had a goal and assist, as did defenceman Olen Zellweger. Forward Zach Ostapchuk had the other goal for Canada.
Cameron has been saying that the team that gets to mid-season form first will have the most success, and Thursday’s game was a far better effort for the Canadians than their opener against Latvia.
“It was a step for sure,” said Cameron. “There were still ebbs and flows to the game, which there always is this time of year. I thought we were much better. I thought we were faster today. We did a much better job moving the puck. And when your team knows where the puck is going, it naturally plays faster.”
Only 3,216 fans took in the game at Rogers Place, up slightly from the 2,779 that took in the opener Wednesday against Latvia.
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