Mason McTavish takes full advantage of development time during conditional loan

November 4, 2021

By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com

There’s never enough ice time for Mason McTavish.

“I love getting on the ice,” the rookie center said after a recent practice. “I would like to go there every day, but obviously it’s good to have a day off every now and then. Once on the ice, I always enjoy competing with my teammates and having fun. It’s what I love to do and that’s why I keep doing it.

The third overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, McTavish is with the San Diego Gulls on a conditional loan. He is recovering from a lower-body injury he suffered during the Anaheim Ducks game with the Calgary Flames on Oct. 18.

He had an immediate impact, going 1-1=2 points as San Diego shared a weekend streak with Tucson. McTavish became the youngest player in Gulls history to score a goal, score one on the power play in Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Roadrunners.

“It’s obviously a little different going from the NHL to the AHL, but it’s been great,” he said. “Really competitive. I really enjoyed my stay here. The coaches and players are great, so it’s been fun for me.

The storyline follows his early success with the Ducks.

McTavish did an unexpected debut in the NHL in Anaheim’s home opener on October 13 against the Winnipeg Jets. Center got a call that afternoon from head coach Dallas Eakins saying he would be stepping in to replace Max Jones, who missed the game with flu-like symptoms.

He made an impact right away, bringing home a rebound for his first NHL goal (and point) with 6:40 left in the first period. The count was initially called off, but the video review reversed the call, confirming his shot crossed the goal line before a whistle ended the game.

The center became the youngest scorer in Ducks history (18 years, 256 days), surpassing Oleg Tverdovsky in 1994 (18 years, 259 days).

“I couldn’t have asked for more, to be honest,” McTavish said after the game. “With the big win and the goal, it’s definitely the one I’ll never forget.”

The foundation of his success began during Anaheim rookie camp, where he learned under the watchful eye of Gulls head coach Joel Bouchard and the Anaheim Ducks management team. His previous experience with the San Diego bench coach made him more comfortable as he began his AHL stint.

“I just like how he wants his players to compete as hard as they can,” McTavish explained. “He expects everyone to work as hard as they can. It’s their job, so obviously having fun, but when it comes time to work, he expects us to work, which I ‘love.

The experience also allows McTavish to fit in with several of Anaheim’s top prospects. The center joins a team made up of Jacob Perreault, Brayden Tracey, Lukas Dostal and several other young players looking to one day make an impact with the NHL club.

“It’s super cool to see all the young guys here,” McTavish said. “The older guys really help us, especially at the start, they get really comfortable. Same with coaches and management. It’s pretty cool to have that dynamic. It’s quite fun to be here and like I said I’m really enjoying my time here.

At the end of a recent practice, after most of the players had left the ice, McTavish remained on the ice. He challenged Perreault to a shooting, with Dostal in the net to tackle each shooter. A fun game quickly turned competitive, with the two young players extending the match and giving each other cheerful chirps.

The 10-minute session highlighted McTavish’s ethos and gave the rookie a chance to continue developing the skills that Ducks and Gulls fans are excited about.

“I always like to believe in myself,” McTavish said. “I’m pretty solid offensively; I have a good shot. I’m pretty offensively aware of my surroundings. To be confident, and I think the coaches and teammates help me a lot. I just like to believe in myself and in my abilities on the ice.