Nathan MacKinnon leaps to celebrate his clinching Memorial Cup goal (Steve Hiscock photo)
"Nate the Great"? Sounds too cliché. "Nate the Skate"? Perhaps.
The Great Nate Debate of 2013 is for more than a nickname, of course. The story of the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup was all about the top prospects headlining the event. Nathan MacKinnon's name perhaps wasn't in the biggest type on the marquee, but he out-played and out-produced his rivals on the largest stage he could—the Sunday finale.
Final score: Halifax - 6, Portland - 4. MacKinnon's three goals, one in the first and one in the second (plus an empty netter), were followed up by an assist he earned by cutting to the net and teammate Konrad Abeltshauser followed up with the garbage. If MacKinnon's insurance goal didn't seal the game, and the QMJHL's first Memorial Cup in Western Canada since 1980,
The Halifax Mooseheads are champions. Primarily, they're the QMJHL champions, but they won the CHL's showcase event as well in defining fashion. They beat WHL Champion Portland 7-4 in the round robin, and OHL Champs London 9-2. All that was left was a Sunday finish, and the Mooseheads showed up, taking an early lead and never relinquishing.
No. 1 Star - Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax Mooseheads
And it was MacKinnon's night. Perhaps Jonathan Drouin is the better playmaker and puck-carrier of the two. There have been other nights this season, surely, when MacKinnon was far and away the better player of the Mooseheads' dynamic duo. It helps that the world got to see his star shine after a disappointing December tournament at the World Juniors when Team Canada coach Steve Spott nailed him to the bench and kept him on the fourth line.
MacKinnon, who had been propped up as a player who perhaps could have gone ahead of Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting last season if he had been draft-eligible, was quiet. It wasn't his fault, but MacKinnon showed what he can do in front of a national audience all week. With four points on Sunday, he cleared Portland's Ty Rattie in the tournament's leading point-getters, finishing with 13 in just four games, and two hat-tricks against the stingy defence of the Portland Winterhawks.
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