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Draft experience not lost on McDonald

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

I guess they really wanted me and I’m happy to get picked by them. It means they’ve been looking on me. They had their eye on me. They picked me. To have a name bar on, it’s really good.Mason McDonald

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The significance isn’t lost on Mason McDonald.

The Charlottetown Islanders goaltender was handed a Calgary Flames jersey with his name bar firmly stitched across the back. No Velcro. No blank spot.

The Flames got their goaltender.

“I did (notice that),” McDonald said. “I guess they really wanted me and I’m happy to get picked by them. It means they’ve been looking on me. They had their eye on me. They picked me. To have a name bar on, it’s really good.”

Flames general manager Brad Treliving confirmed as much.

“Ultimately, our goalie list, we put it in order, had Mason at the top,” Treliving said. “It was one we spent a lot of time on last night, quite frankly. We had a chance to see Mason a couple weeks ago at the Hockey Canada camp. He was in town. We spent some time with him. Our guys like this guy. He was there. We made the pick.”

The name bar isn’t the only worthy note to come four picks into the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft.

McDonald, a product of Halifax, NS. was the first goaltender taken in the draft, too.

“It’s an honour to be the first goalie selected, not many guys can say that,” McDonald said. “It’s great that it happened.

“I’m very happy about that. I knew that there was a chance coming in that I could be the first goalie and when it happened, I was relieved of all the stress that was building up in me. I was sitting in the chair shaking. I was pretty nervous. Being picked by Calgary, I was pretty happy.”

The Flames drafted McDonald knowing that if they didn’t take him at No. 34, they wouldn’t get him at all.

“Not surprised at all,” Treliving said. “We knew that was going to happen. There was a real separation between the top goaltenders and you knew as soon as one name was called, they were going to start to fall so we had to make sure we weren’t caught on the wrong side of the spacing.

“We knew if we didn’t take him there, we didn’t have a chance to get him. We’re excited to get him.”

After sitting through the first round Friday, the 6-foot-4, 178-pound netminder -- who was ranked second among North American goalies by Central Scouting -- McDonald quickly stood just four picks into Day Two.

It was more a matter of when, not if, McDonald would be selected. Where became a question, too.

But he always had an inkling Calgary would come calling.

“They were one of the teams that I had in the back of my mind that I thought would be taking me,” he said. “When it happened I was really excited.

“I talked to them at the Combine and I talked to a guy in Calgary last week. They were one of the teams that showed a little more interest than others. It was between them and two others that I kind of had in the back of my mind and I’m glad to be selected by them.”

He’s more than familiar with the city, too.

The southpaw, who likens his style between the pipes to that of Philadelphia Flyers stopper Steve Mason, has already made two trips out to Calgary this season.

His first came at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, where in front of his future employers he stopped 15 of 16 shots en route to helping Team Orr to a 4-3 win.

His second came just over a month ago when he was invited to participate in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence goaltending camp as one of 10 U20 goaltenders pegged to have the inside track on a trip to the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

His Hockey Canada pedigree has certainly helped.

He started his draft year off on a golden note, winning the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August. He capped it off with a bronze at the World Under-18 Championship in April where he was named the tournament’s top goalie.

The event, his final of the year, helped pave the way to being the first goalie picked Saturday and the recipient of a perfectly stitched Flames jersey.

“We’d have to go back in time and do it all over again to find out but I think it really helped, playing good there, to make me the first goalie off the board,” McDonald said. “I was really happy about that.”

He parlayed that performance into being the highest goaltender selected by the Flames since Leland Irving went 26th overall in 2006.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“I’m just very excited to go to a great organization like Calgary,” he said. “It’s a great city, I was there a few weeks ago at the goalie camp and I really like it there. It’s a nice new city and I’m just excited. The nerves are gone now.

“It’s great."

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