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McTavish Impresses On and Off the Ice in First Training Camp

by Matt Weller @MattWeller_ /

Mason McTavish's commitment to hockey started while watching his dad, Dale, play professionally in Switzerland.

"I got to see him play at a young age," the Ducks rookie forward says. "Just being in the locker room and seeing how much fun they had, that's why I'm super passionate about hockey."

Now, just three months after hearing his name called third overall in last July's NHL Draft, the son is putting lessons learned watching Dad to good use and playing his way into the Ducks lineup.

McTavish has officially earned a place on Anaheim's opening night 23-man roster, and if he debuts Wednesday, the 18-year-old will become the youngest player in franchise history. But you wouldn't know it watching him go about his business around the rink.

"Some kids come in and they take the mindset of 'Man, this is so awesome. I'm at NHL camp and I have two or three years of juniors left. I'm all set and I'll deal with this later,'" said Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins. "He sees opportunity. He understands we're looking for highly competitive people. He's taking the mindset of 'Hey, I know I have junior left, but I'm going to make this team.'"

McTavish says he allowed himself to soak in the moment at training camp for a day before shifting his mentality. From there on out it's been all business.

"I'm sticking to what I've been doing since the start and doing what I was doing to get myself here," he says.

"Listening to the coaches, asking a lot of questions and making sure you're in the right place at the right time."

Those coaches believe the rookie's professional mindset will help him tackle the steep learning curve that comes with entering the NHL.

"He's taking in a lot of information and processing it quickly," Eakins said. "The things we give him, he either employs it right away or he never makes that mistake again. We need more of this right across the board, and he brings it."

A sprained ankle suffered in the Rookie Faceoff tournament in Arizona forced a delayed start to camp, but McTavish made an immediate impression on his veteran teammates when he did hit the ice.

"It's a tough situation having an injury early in camp but we've seen him work through it and get right into the action," said center Adam Henrique. "I think he's done a great job of playing his game and doing what got him here. He's showing the staff what he's all about."

For a team focused on creating more offense, McTavish's blend of size and skill could be an effective complement to some of the Ducks' established scoring threats. He showed his goal scoring-potential on his first NHL preseason tally, snapping his highly touted wrist shot past NHL veteran goalie James Reimer. 

Video: Mason McTavish scores his first NHL preseason goal

"He sees the ice well," Henrique said. "His game is a hard-style player, and he's able to capitalize on those chances with his shot. He's a fiesty player, too. He's not afraid to get in there in the battles."

McTavish showed that burly side to his game in his first meeting with the rival Kings. With Anaheim trailing late in the third period, McTavish collided with Kings defender Mikey Anderson, drawing a swarm of bodies while McTavish and Anderson ended up wrestling beneath in the LA goal crease. In a preseason exhibition with the score all but decided, the rookie already looked at home wreaking havoc for Ducks opponents. 

"When the other team is noticing you like that, it means you're doing something right," Eakins said. "It means you're doing something they don't like, and that's usually competing hard and being a hard player."

Officially in "the show" now, the young forward has passed his first professional test, with many more lying ahead throughout an 82-game season.

"He's got a lot of different clubs in his bag," Eakins said. "So far, so good. He'll get a lot of chances to prove what he's worth going forward."

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