By Ken Pagan
Coming into his first season in the GOJHL, one of Jacob Macdonald’s goals was to establish himself as a more confident player in making plays and smart decisions with the puck.
With a third of the season in the books, the 18-year-old captain of the Hamilton Kilty B’s is well on his way in that regard, having put up at least one point in 14 of 18 games while leading the club with nine goals as the calendar turns to November.
Macdonald scored for the second straight game, converting on a breakaway in the third period, as the Kilty B’s (12-4-2) rallied for a 5-2 win over the Fort Erie Meteors on Monday at Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena.
Nolan Underwood, with two, Andrew Salt and Justin Monteith also scored for the Kilty B’s, while Justin Easter stopped 21 of 23 shots for the win in net.
The five-foot-10, 160-pound swift-skating Macdonald came up playing ‘AAA’ hockey in the Burlington Eagles program. A broken collarbone in his minor midget season set things back on the ice, but his game benefited over the past two seasons focusing on skill development with the Blyth Academy Prep Cougars.
“We were on the ice every day and I knew it would be good for my development,” Macdonald said of his two seasons with the Blyth Academy. “My coach, C.J. Morrison, was a great mentor and he trained all of us to the best of his ability. I could really see the difference in everybody’s game from when I started to the end of the two years I was there.”
With on-ice sessions every day after school supplemented by a schedule of 10 weekend tournaments throughout the season, Macdonald saw continued improvement in his own game – skating, strength, shot and confidence. He is hoping to use this season with the Kilty B’s to keep the progression moving.
“Obviously, everything in my game can be improved upon, but I feel my biggest strength is my vision of the ice and knowing where everybody would be and where the puck is going to be,” said Macdonald, who is second on the club with 19 points in 18 games. Rookie Steven Laforme leads with 24 points.
Coming into the season, the right-shooting playmaker wasn’t expecting to be named the team’s captain, but it’s a responsibility Macdonald is glad to take on along with alternate captains Salt, Fred Teeple and Monteith.
“It was a great honour to be named captain of this team,” Macdonald said. “The boys are doing great. We had a great start to the season and then we slowed down a bit, but now we are picking things back up again.”
Two months into the season, the Kilty B’s are second in the Golden Horseshoe Conference with a 12-4-2 record. Macdonald is focused on helping show the way and continuing to improve so the Kilty B’s can make it as far as possible in the playoffs.
“Honestly, we just need to be able to develop as much as we can and work as hard as we can every day,” he said. “Right from the start, I knew we were going to be a good team. Our forward group has a lot of skill, our defence is starting to show a good offensive mindset and our goaltending is the best in the league, I’d say.”
Hamilton 4, Pelham 0
On Sunday, Easter stopped all 21 shots he faced for his second straight shutout and league-leading fourth of the season in a 4-0 road win over the Pelham Panthers (4-10-2).
McDonald, Cameron Gauvreau, Ellis Rickwood and Terry Bridgland scored for the Kilty B’s.
Easter now leads all GOJHL goalies in wins (9), shutouts (4), goals-against average (1.67) and save-percentage (.946).