Standing inside the Peterborough Memorial Centre outside the Petes dressing room my eyes are drawn to team photos along the walls displaying the rich history of Ontario Hockey League players to have donned the Petes uniform. As I spawned through the early 90’s squads, one player caught my interest tonight in particular. Dale McTavish scored 81 points in 66 games for his best season of junior hockey helping guide the team to an OHL championship season in 92/93. Just over 25 years later it’s another in the McTavish bloodline looking to repeat his fathers’ success and bring a championship to Peterborough.
Peterborough drafted the 6’, 180 lbs forward in the 1st round, 5th overall at the 2019 OHL Priority Selection out of the Pembroke Lumber Kings AAA midget system scoring 47 goals and 79 points in 41 games in 2018/19. With a sense of offence, he’s not afraid to play physical accumulating 109 penalty minutes during the last year of minor hockey. He went on to register 15 points in eight playoff games. He dressed in five games with the Lumber Kings Junior “A” team as well last year with three goals and four assists in five games including a three-point game vs the Kemptville 67’s. Not bad for a then 15-year old suiting up in the Central Canada Hockey League.
Kingston Frontenacs head coach Kurtis Foster is impressed with the confidence Mason McTavish has shown as a 16-year old player. When appearing from the dressing room walking over to me, you can easily see this was a confident young man. With his dad’s picture in the background, it was a great place to spend a couple of minutes with the son of a Petes great.
“It’s special to be able to play for such a great team and especially with my dad being (playing) here its been a great experience,” says McTavish. “He comes in mostly on Thursdays, we talk about hockey, and it’s been helpful having him around for sure.”
McTavish, like any rookie, needed to adjust to the size and speed of the OHL game, and while he admits there have been some speedbumps along the way, his season got off to a great start. The offensive catalyst registered a point in his first five games (4G,3A) in the OHL. A team player first, Mason said:“ It was nice to get off to a good start, but more importantly the team has too, so it has been really good. My teammates and billets have been very helpful and offered support,” he says when asked of how the adjustment has been. “The guys have welcomed me into the room and it has been a great learning experience.”
As a rookie in the OHL, it’s important that you have confidence in your surroundings and with an excellent management group in Peterborough, Mason feels he’s in good hands. “As a 16-year-old player it is always going to be difficult at times being away from home but the organization has been great all along.”
He’s failed to get on the score sheet only twice in his first 12 games (including a season-opening five-game point-streak with four goals and three assists) while totalling eight goals and 12 points for a point-a-game average. He has continued contributing to a high-octane Petes offence that’s scored 127 team goals (4th in OHL as of Dec. 9). Mason’s 15 goals have helped propel the Petes into a battle for the Division and Conference lead. Headed into the game against Kingston on Dec 7, he added six assists for 21 points holding a 0.85 pts/game average and is a leading candidate for the Emms Family Award for OHL Rookie of the Year. He leads all rookies in goals sitting one ahead of Kingston’s Shane Wright (14) as of Dec. 12.
Blessed with high hockey IQ and size, McTavish uses his strength to his advantage to protect the puck to get himself in high-quality scoring chances regularly. It’s here that his greatest skill is utilized already possessing a pro-level shot with deadly accuracy. As of Dec 12, he has a 19.5 shooting percentage taking advantage of his opportunities. When you factor he is second in rookie shots on goal with 88, you see why other teams coaches need to prepare for the first-year player.
Frontenacs coach Foster commented: “A majority of the offence came through him at the U17, he’s a kid who has massive confidence and loves to score goals. He’s a guy already at 16 you need to be aware when he’s on the ice.” With Foster having seen Shane Wright day in and day out this would seem to be high praise from an opposing coach for a future potential OHL goal king and NHL’er.
McTavish scored three goals in Thursday’s 7-4 win over Hamilton giving him 18 and a four-goal lead on Wright of Kingston in the rookie goal race. He is also now tied for 10th in the OHL with Saginaw’s Damien Giroux on the overall OHL goal chart.