Mason McCarty is ready to make the most of his second chance in Red Deer.
The now 20-year-old spent just five games with the Rebels back in 2014 and then nine more the following season before being dealt to the Saskatoon Blades.
He was traded back to Red Deer during the WHL Bantam Draft this summer and coming off a 21-goal campaign in just 45 games last season with the Blades. The veteran forward is ready to prove he’s a difference maker in the WHL.
“Make every game count. Sometimes it’s tough, in Saskatoon we threw away games early and we found ourselves out of the post season,” McCarty said. “You’re packing your bags in March and that’s the last thing I want to do this season. Every game matters and you have to play the same way every game.”
The Blackie, Alta. native missed the end of last season with a knee injury but is 100 percent now and looking forward to the lineup the Rebels will ice in 2017-2018.
McCarty added his experience on the ice in Saskatoon taught him a lot about the type of player he needs to be moving forward.
“Coming back from being a young guy and things not being so great, it’s different vibes out there now and I’m happy to be back because they work hard and they push the pace every time they’re on the ice,” he said.
“You’ve gotta lead being an older guy. You have to provide offence, but I need to be more consistent and I need to do every little thing to help the young guys learn and contribute to wins.”
It’s likely that the five-foot-10, 185-pound right winger will slot into the top six group for the Rebels, but regardless of his role McCarty is ready.
”I just want to push the pace, I want to provide offence, but I also have to be tough to play against and can’t be a defence liability. Have to play in all situations and contribute to wins, that’s the main goal,” he said.
The former Rebels fourth round draft pick from the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, who is now a veteran of more than 150 WHL said he’s eagerly awaiting the home opener on Sept. 23.
“The fans here are always coming out and it’s loud, it’s a nice building and the city really rallies around the team when you’re playing so it’s nice to see,” he said.