October 10, 2012
Tired of seeing top NHL draft prospect Nathan MacKinnon score brilliant goals? Us neither.
The Halifax Mooseheads star and BTN regular pulled off another one of those moves one would think a player couldn't get away with in major junior hockey to score on Wednesday night. The 17-year-old centre showed a first-step burst that made Moncton Wildcats defenceman Cameron McDonald look like he was wearing cement skates as he threaded the puck through the defender's feet. It might have ended there with nothing coming of it, but MacKinnon scooted to the net while Wildcats goalie Alex Dubeau seemed frozen to the spot, unsure of how to handle the situation. Before Dubeau knew it, MacKinnon had jimmied the puck loose and flicked in the rebound for his second goal on the night and ninth in eight QMJHL games this season. Are you MacKinnon me? (Stick tap for the pun to Kevin Cowper.)
That capped off a 5-1 decision that lifted the Mooseheads into the league lead.
If it's any consolation for the Wildcats, they only have seven more games against MacKinnon and Halifax. And two of those are in mid-December and early January, when he could be that rare underaged player who makes Canada's national junior team. (Obligatory reference to how Sidney Crosby also played in the world junior championship as a 17-year-old during the NHL lockout goes right here.)
Meantime, MacKinnon is rounding out his game early on in his sophomore junior season. His faceoff percentage has rocketed to above 60 per cent after he won fewer than half his draws as a rookie. Sure, it's early, but that's the mark of a centre who's intent on being in the NHL 12 months from now.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.