The Golden Save! Mason McTavish Leads Canada to Gold at World Juniors Tournament

Mason McTavish will likely never play another junior hockey game.  If that’s the case, he has left a legacy by delivering one of the most memorable moments in the history of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The play, which has instantly become a classic highlight that will live on for decades, happened early in an exciting 3-on-3 overtime period in the gold medal game between Canada and Finland. The former Pembroke Lumber King performed what looked like a magical trick as he somehow chopped away a puck that was destined for the Canadian net, and then as the puck danced along the goal line, McTavish swiped it into the corner.

Within seconds, Canada had rushed down the ice and Kent Johnson scored on his own rebound to give the Canadians a 3-2 win and their 19th gold medal in the history of the prestigious tournament. After the game ended, social media exploded and McTavish became a national hero. Tweets reading, “Save of the year” and “Mason McTavish is the G.O.A.T-Greatest of All-Time” filled Twitter. If it is his last junior game, what a way it was to move on for the 19-year old forward who is expected to stick with the Anaheim Ducks who made him the third overall pick in the National Hockey League draft in 2021.

Not surprisingly, McTavish was named the player of the game.  The captain of Team Canada led the tournament in scoring with 17 points in seven games.  The Canadians were undefeated, winning all five of their preliminary round games, before disposing of Czechia in the semi-finals and then finding a way to beat the Fins in the tournament final.

His parents, Dale and Christine and his brother, Darian, were in Edmonton to watch the game. Dale called it a “crazy game,” adding how happy he was for Mason, calling it a “wild ride.”   That’s an understatement.  Since leaving the Lumber Kings, Mason McTavish has built one of the most impressive hockey resumes in the world, and he still is under 20 years of age.

In addition to winning a gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship, McTavish helped Canada win gold at the Under-18 World championship in 2021. He was the youngest player on Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team earlier this year.  He helped the Hamilton Bull Dogs win an Ontario Hockey League Championship and just missed winning a Memorial Cup when the Bull Dogs lost in the final.  Last fall, when he played his first NHL game with Anaheim, he scored a goal.

All of this was accomplished during a world-wide pandemic that disrupted his career and forced him to take some detours.  When the COVID-19 virus shut down the OHL season in his first year playing with the Peterborough Petes and cancelled the league playoffs, McTavish travelled to Europe where he played for a senior elite team in the Swiss league.

He just kept playing wherever he could and took advantage of every opportunity he could get, while constantly working out and improving his game.  It paid off when he shot to the top of the NHL draft board and became a centrepiece of Anaheim’s rebuild that should have McTavish wearing a Ducks uniform for a long time.

In his first taste of NHL action, he played nine games with the Ducks before they sent him back to the OHL to get more playing time.  The Petes traded McTavish to Hamilton, setting him up for a good run that produced a league championship and a Memorial Cup experience, but as a new NHL season approaches, it would be a surprise if McTavish saw any more junior hockey action. He just keeps getting better and is proving himself to be a strong leader with elite hockey skills.

From playing as a 15-year old with the Pembroke Lumber Kings to representing his country at several international tournaments, Mason McTavish has become a household name in Canadian hockey circles. Like Sidney Crosby’s “Golden Goal” at the 2010 Winter Olympics for Canada, McTavish will now be long remembered for his “Golden Save” at the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championships.