THORBURN – When the Acadie-Bathurst Titan head to the Memorial Cup in Regina this week, Andrew MacLeod will be tagging along for the ride.
The 17-year-old resident of Thorburn was a first team all-star goaltender in the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League season, and was team MVP with the Weeks Major Midgets.
He signed with the Titan last fall as an affiliated player, spent a week with them in March and will serve as the team’s third goaltender at the Memorial Cup.
When the Titan were embroiled in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs a couple of weeks ago (they won the Q title when they beat Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in six games), MacLeod got a call from the Titan.
“The coaches gave me a call and said if they won the series I’d be going with them,” to the Memorial Cup, MacLeod said, who is excited to be part of the experience.
“I used to dream of it when I was a kid, watching with my dad on TV,” he said.
He isn’t wishing injury on any of the other Acadie-Bathurst goaltenders, of course, but being a competitor, he’d love to somehow see game action in Regina.
“It’d be nice to get a game under my belt, but that’s pretty far-fetched,” he admits.
He will back up Evan Fitzpatrick (drafted in 2016 by the St. Louis Blues) and Joseph Murdaca.
“It couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” said Weeks coach Kyle MacLennan, who said MacLeod’s preparation and poise are two of his strong suits.
“I’ve watched him grow the last three years, not just as a goaltender but as a person.”
MacLeod was a first team all-star goaltender in the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League season, and was team MVP with the Weeks Major Midgets.
In March, he spent a week with the Titan, working out with them every day, where he faced pucks fired at him by National Hockey League draft picks.
“The speed of the players who’ve been drafted by the NHL, the harder shots. The coaching staff they have is amazing up there, with their goalie coach, Dave Kennedy.”
MacLeod hopes to catch on with the Titan next fall, and if that doesn’t work out, he’ll try to crack the Junior ‘A’ Crushers roster. But before all that, there’s the Memorial Cup.
“I’m excited for Andrew, it’ll be a good experience for him,” said his dad, Joe Walsh.
“When he was three years old he was skating on his own. Ever since he was a little kid, it was hockey, hockey, hockey – it’s all he ever wanted to do.”
The 2018 Memorial Cup starts Friday and runs through May 27. The Titan will play their first game of the round robin Saturday against the Swift Current Broncos, champions of the Western Hockey League.
Goalie coach convinced Titan to sign MacLeod
BATHURST, N.B. – Dave Kennedy went to bat for Andrew MacLeod.
The goaltending coach with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan urged his hockey club to sign the Pictou County goaltender last fall, when the 17-year-old was a free agent.
“He’s a great kid, humble and I fight for those guys,” said Kennedy, whose team has invited the MacLeod for their trip to Regina and the 2018 Memorial Cup.
Coincidentally, Kennedy did some goaltender coaching for the Junior A Crushers a few years ago and held bi-weekly clinics this past season on Sunday nights at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
He doesn’t expect MacLeod to play in Regina, but sees it as an opportunity for him to learn from the other goaltenders, perhaps provide some inspiration during the off-season.
“Andrew wins hockey games,” Kennedy said.
“I’ve watched him in tournaments where his team should have lost games, but instead they won it (largely due to MacLeod’s play). He’s a winner – and I don’t use that word for just anybody. He’s still got some work to do to get to the next level, but he’s a battler.”