2013 Memorial Cup: Portland Winterhawks’ Mac Carruth puts bad first game behind him

Neate Sager

SASKATOON, Sask. — Mac Carruth found another source for his ire.

For the overage goalie, there was no sense in resenting that the Halifax Mooseheads prodigy Nathan MacKinnon ("great players find a way to score from bad angles") made him look bad Saturday when the Portland Winterhawks had a 35-minute meltdown during their 7-4 MasterCard Memorial Cup loss. Nate The Skate will do that to a lot of goalies at the next level in this life. Carruth's response Sunday when asked how he reconciled having an off-night in an all-important first game of the touranment was awfully illuminating.

Instead of wallowing, he watched how the media picked apart the play of his teammate Seth Jones, MacKinnon's NHL draft contemporary,

"I just turned the page, I guess," Carruth said when a reporter asked a question that used that shopworn hockey phrase. "Watched Sportscentre last night — Seth Jones kind of got hung out to dry by you guys. But I thought Seth played great. Goals went in from behind the goal line. That's not his fault. That's mine. Every goalie is going to have one of those nights. That was mine."

It was a unique response. Perhaps it hinted at being outwardly motivated instead of dwelling on the soft goals Carruth allowed Saturday. It ties into a Winterhawks theme from throughout the entire season, finding some distraction, like the WHL sanctions against the team, to be motivated.

"Our team can turn any negative into a positive," said Carruth, who holds several Winterhawks club records. "This is no different.

Coach-GM Travis Green wasn't sure about committing to that trope. It does show the Portland goalie should be expected to be sharper on Monday, when the 0-1 Winterhawks face the 1-0 London Knights (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m., Sportsnet/TVA Sports, BTN livechat).

"If we win the game, it'll be a negative that turns into a positive," Green said. "I don't really think it's worth really thinking in those terms. We're not going to think about the end result, we're going to think about the preparation, our trademarks.

"As a team, every time we had a letdown this year we responded the next time."

Portland's preparation includes letting go of the loss to Halifax. Know this much: Carruth, given a night to sleep on the setback, had a sense of humour about giving up seven goals in a big game.

"They were pretty opportunistic," he said of the Mooseheads. "Theyre a good team up front, good in net — obviously better than us. As a team, we played better than they did. Didn't get the bounces, didn't get the goaltending."

Rest assured, he swears he wasn't being jolted away Saturday night by visions of No. 22 in Mooseheads red and green exulting after another goal.

"I slept fine," Mac Carruth said. "Melatonin helped me a little bit."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.