BOSTON - Charlie McAvoy is not used to being home for the holidays. For the last two years, the blue liner has spent Christmas out of the country competing for Team USA at the World Junior Championship.
McAvoy won bronze with the United States at the 2016 tournament in Helsinki, Finland, and was the Yanks' best player as they captured gold at last year's event in Montreal. His performances at both tournaments helped to solidify his billing as a player undeterred by the bright lights of the big stage.
Now a rookie on the Bruins' top defense pairing, McAvoy can only watch as the Americans begin their quest to defend their title - not that he's complaining.
"It was nice to be home for Christmas for what felt like was the first time in a while and spend it with my family, see my grandma and my cousins, aunts and uncles," McAvoy said Wednesday morning ahead of the B's tilt with Ottawa.
"That's always special. You get to see some family and put some things aside and you don't have to think about hockey or anything like that. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve it's really just about family and enjoying yourself and the ones you love."
Nonetheless, McAvoy made sure he was by the television on Tuesday night as some of his former teammates thrashed Denmark, 9-0, on the opening day of the tournament. Bruins prospects Trent Frederic (12:46 TOI) and Ryan Lindgren (16:18) did not make their way onto the scoresheet, but contributed important minutes for the Americans. Goalie Jeremy Swayman, another Bruins' draft pick, did not play.
"What an awesome tournament…everyone has a lot of pride in where they're from. It's pretty special to make it to the highest level, but never forget where you came from, where you played youth hockey, and the country you're able to represent," said McAvoy. "It's a special time of year, this is my favorite time of year. I was eager to watch last night. Those games are a hard measuring stick when you play a team like that. [The U.S.] can score goals, so we'll see how they do.
"I've got a lot of friends on that team so I've been chatting back and forth and wishing them luck. They're obviously very excited but they have a job to do, so hopefully they get it done."
For Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, a member of Team Canada at the 1984 World Juniors in Sweden, his focus is now more on watching Boston's individual prospects than rooting on his countrymen.
Bruins draft picks Urho Vaakanainen (four shots, 18:57 TOI) and Joona Koppanen (10:22) suited up for Finland in their 4-2 loss to Canada on Tuesday, while Oskar Steen contributed an assist in Sweden's 6-1 win over Belarus.
"I follow more the individual players now…I'm always gonna watch Canada - I don't know they're in tough this year. They've had their share of success, just not as much recently," said Cassidy. "I think the Americans have made it tougher on the Canadians now. Back then, it was usually Canada-Russia a lot of times and now it's more the Americans."
Which, with 11 Americans on the Bruins roster, is a bit of downside for the Ottawa native.
"Now I hate losing to the Americans because I've got to hear it," Cassidy quipped.