Carp – “The McTavish Miracle.”

That is the name attached to one of the most thrilling, game-saving defensive plays ever witnessed in the sport of hockey made Saturday night by Mason McTavish in Canada’s gold-medal win over Finland in the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championship in Edmonton.

The 19-year-old son of Eganville natives Dale and Christine (Kasdorff) McTavish, known for his offensive prowess, saved the game for Canada in overtime with an incredible display of hand/eye co-ordination.

The Finns had dirceted a shot on the Canadian net that would have clearly been the game-winning goal, but McTavish batted the puck from the air with his stick, watched it bounce once on the goal line, and swept it away before a Finnish opponent could tap it in for the winning goal. Seconds later, the Canadians rushed up-ice, with  Kent Johnson netting the overtime winner to give Canada the 3-2 win and the gold.

In an interview with The Leader from the family home in Carp on Monday, he shared what he recalled of the play that will go down in hockey history as one of the greatest ever.

“It was a crazy, crazy game and I’m so happy to be on the winning outcome of it,” he said. “It was a crazy play and I don’t really know what happened.

“I remember I kind of got tripped behind the net, saw the puck in the slot, got up and got kind of in behind our goalie,” he added. “I saw it bouncing over, put my stick out and hit the puck out of the way of the net.

“It was crazy. I don’t know how it didn’t go into the net honestly.”

He said he is positive the shot would have given the Finns the win, explaining he just reacted instinctively and thankfully, the outcome was positive.

“The nerves were definitely going but I managed to get some composure and clear it out off the goal line.”

He said he had turned the puck over previously on the shift that led to a 3-on-1, but Grand made the glove save and handed the puck off to him as he attempted to round the net.

“I kind of got tripped or caught an edge and I don’t know how . . . I was kind of falling down, so I really didn’t see how they got the puck out front.

“The Finns made a play and I was the last guy back, so I just tried to bat it out of the net,” he added. “I still can’t really believe how it happened, but I was really fortunate.”

McTavish said it was a great honour to have been selected captain of the team by the coaching staff.

“Any time you win anything, it’s really special, but to be the captain of Team Canada, at the World Juniors, at home in Edmonton, definitely made it a little bit more special. It was an unreal feeling and the fans were crazy; they supported us the whole way.

“It was such an honour to represent our country,” he added.

McTavish led the tournament offensively with 17 points on eight goals and nine assists, two assists of which came in the final. He was named the top Canadian player in the final and was named the tournament MVP (Most Valuable Player).

“It was great tournament for the team and me individually, but obviously I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and linemates. Credit goes out to them for sure.

“Winning is obviously the main goal and you try and do everything you can to help your team,” he added. “Kudos to my teammates and coaches, without them it wouldn’t have been possible.”

He said going into the tournament the focus was on getting to the gold medal, rather than thinking too much about who their toughest opponent might be.

“Obviously, the USA, Sweden, Finland are normally the ones that end up in the finals with Canada. I kind of figured it would be one of them if we got there.”

Despite the fact the team saw a 2-0 lead in the final slip away in the third to force the overtime, the mood in the dressing room was still positive.

“It was nice to get the 2-0 lead, but in the third they kind of had all the momentum,” he noted. “I think the intermission after the third really helped us recoup and settle down a bit and just play hockey.

“It was a crazy game, a lot of emotions up and down, but I’m just so thankful we ended up scoring,” he added.

While the TV commentators spoke often about Canada perhaps missing its chances to put the game away with missed opportunities on the power play, McTavish felt the power-play had created some good chances.       

“I thought their goalie just played really well. With them playing us before, they kind of caught on but I thought we did create some great chances and some momentum, but their goalie was the key factor why the power-play wasn’t going.”

Grateful To Ducks

Drafted third overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 2021, McTavish expressed his gratitude to the team for allowing him the opportunity to play in the World Championships. During the broadcasts, the commentators spoke about how he had to lobby for that permission, and he was grateful the NHL team accommodated his request.

“Every Canadian kid kind of dreams about playing in a World Juniors,” he remarked. “That was still my dream and something I really wanted to accomplish and to do.

“I talked to my agent, Pat Morris and the Anaheim management and I kind of made it clear that I wanted to play in it, and thankfully, they were kind of on the same page.

“I’m super thankful for that because I know some NHL teams didn’t want their guys to go,” he added. “I can’t thank the organization enough for letting me play for my country.”

Honoured To Make First Pick in 2022 Draft   

The Ducks organization clearly illustrated the importance of McTavish to the franchise when they selected him to make their first pick in the recent 2022 NHL entry draft held in Montreal.

When the time came for the Ducks’ pick, McTavish approached the podium and announced the team had selected Pavel Mintyukov from Russia as the 10th overall pick.

“It was a pretty cool experience going to the draft and making a pick. It was pretty cool just to experience the draft because when I went through it, it was all online and on Zoom due to COVID.

“It was pretty cool being at a live draft, seeing what actually happens, and how much talk, and how hard the management side and GMs work,” he added. “It was definitely eye-opening.”

It was a memorable season for McTavish, who also participated in the Memorial Cup final with his Hamilton Bulldog teammates. He joined the Bulldogs after a trade from the Peterborough Petes, winning the OHL title in seven games to qualify for the Memorial Cup birth.                 

“I loved my time in Hamilton. It was great. The management, players and coaches were great and I have nothing but great things to say about the organization.”

After a slow start at the Memorial Cup, they won three straight to advance to the final versus the host St. John Sea Dogs who prevailed 4-2 in the championship game.

“We were a little bit too tired, too fatigued after a deep play-off run. It was a great St. John team who played real hard and they were pretty hungry.”

McTavish said he is always learning, win or lose, there is such a quick turn-around between games, you never want to focus too long on the highs or lows from the past.

He admitted when the 2021 championship was cancelled due to COVID, he really didn’t think the IIHF would be able to re-schedule the event in 2022 due to the fact they were already planning for the 2023 championship.

“I just thought it would be really hard to do that, so for them to do that . . . it meant so much to the players.”

When asked what was the biggest thrill, scoring his first NHL goal in his debut with the Ducks last fall, or winning the gold on the weekend, he replied, “I don’t think it’s really close. I think definitely, the gold medal win at the Junior Championship is way bigger.

“Obviously, scoring your first goal is really special individually, but when you can accomplish a gold medal at the world championship with your teammates, knowing how hard you work … it was special to see it pay off.”

The fact his parents and brother, Darian, were in the audience for the gold-medal win made it extra special for him.”

He continues to train in the Ottawa area and will report to the Ducks camp on September 5 with every intention of sticking with the team this year.