Another hockey star from Cole Harbour
There must be something in the water in Cole Harbour, N.S., because two of the greatest young hockey players in Canada in the last 10 years have skated on ice made from that Cole Harbour H2O — a situation that defies logic.
Cole Harbour is a community of 25,000 — a small city by anyone’s definition — yet Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon are home-grown products of the city near Halifax.
OK, you’ve heard of Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar who, some claim, is the world’s best player. You may not have heard of MacKinnon but, if you’re a hockey fan of any stripe, you will.
MacKinnon will be a 17-year-old playing for Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this winter.
A ‘young’ 17, too, because his birthday is Sept. 1.
Right now, the fast-skating forward is projected to be the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft next June, making him the second Cole Harbour native to be the top pick in a span of just nine years.
Critics say MacKinnon might not be the next Crosby, but he’s a superstar-in-waiting nonetheless.
Sixteen-year-old players rarely lead their major-junior teams in scoring, but MacKinnon’s 78 points topped the Halifax list last year.
He really made an international splash this summer when he led Canada to a gold medal in the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
MacKinnon’s five goals and six assists led all players in what scouts regard as the second-most important tournament (next to the World Junior) for prospecting.
In the championship game, MacKinnon scored three goals in Canada’s 4-0 victory over Finland.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this before, but it’s a great way to start the season,” MacKinnon told TSN.ca.
Sometime in December, when Hockey Canada officials will gather to choose Canada’s players for the World Junior in Ufa, Russia, MacKinnon’s name will probably be front and centre.
Chances are he will be the only 17-year-old on the squad, which could be bolstered by a number of 20-year-olds if the NHL labour strife is still in full force.
Meanwhile, Cole Harbour city fathers should perhaps get an early start on changing their city’s welcome sign.
Space will soon have to be found on the “Home of Sidney Crosby” sign for the name of another young hockey superstar.
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