Two lucky players from Kerry Park Minor Hockey witnessed first-hand a game that Canadian hockey fans will be talking about for decades to come.
Quinton and Nathan MacDonald were on hand at Rogers Place in Edmonton last Saturday night as Team Canada defeated Finland 3-2 in overtime to win gold at the 2022 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.
Even casual hockey fans will be familiar with Mason McTavish’s remarkable game-saving play in overtime, in which he knocked the puck out of the air, then swept it off the goal line, preventing a surefire game-winner by the Finns. Needless to say, that moment stands out in both youngsters’ memories of the game.
“I really liked to see Mason McTavish saving that goal,” said 11-year-old Nathan, admitting that he didn’t realize exactly what McTavish had done until he watched replays. “I thought he just toe-dragged it out of the net. It really surprised me when I saw him hit it out of thin air.”
It wasn’t long after that play that B.C.-born-and-raised Kent Johnson took a pass from Logan Stankoven and buried it to give Canada its 19th title in tournament history.
“I saw him [Johnson] deke out the goalie,” recalled Quinton, 13. “Once I saw him make that move, I knew it was in.”
Both boys were over the moon when Canada won.
“My mind was blown,” Nathan said. “I was really happy for Canada and really happy for Bedard. It was one of the highlights of my life. It was really fun.”
“Just the greatest feeling,” Quinton said.
The boys had been waiting to attend the tournament since their family got tickets more than two years ago. The International Ice Hockey Federation tried to hold the tournament last December, but postponed it after only a few games were played when several players came down with COVID-19. The wait was well worth it, though. They were able to attend a few other games in addition to the gold-medal match, including the bronze-medal contest between Sweden and Czechia.
One of the best parts about the tournament for both boys was seeing Connor Bedard — another B.C. product and the projected first-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft — in action.
“I had been wanting to see Bedard play for a while,” Quinton said. “We were waiting for the World Juniors for a while, but it kept getting cancelled.”
Quinton, who plays left wing and centre, also named McTavish as one of his other favourites at the tournament, while Nathan, a defenceman, enjoyed the play of fellow blueliner Olen Zellweger.
Following the gold-medal game, as they watched the players leave the ice, the boys spotted the TSN broadcast crew of James Duthie, Cheryl Pounder and Bob McKenzie taking pictures with fans, and joined the line. They also managed to snag a couple of broken sticks at the tournament, including one of McTavish’s.
“It was from when he took a slapshot and broke it and went to the bench and got another one and scored, all on the same shift,” Quinton recalled.