Chores can wait: Mahura happy with quick return to Canadian juniors

LONDON, Ont. — One of Josh Mahura’s top priorities after Canada’s junior team wrapped up practice Thursday was to find a laundromat.

The Regina Pats defenceman was cut from the world junior championship roster on Friday and returned to Saskatchewan, but was then recalled to Canada’s team base in southern Ontario on Sunday to sub in for the injured Dante Fabbro.

Zipping back and forth across Canada meant Mahura didn’t even get a chance to unpack, let alone do laundry.

“I got back into Regina and played that night and then after the game my head coach and GM told me they wanted me to come back up,” said Mahura after Canada’s 9-0 rout of the Czech Republic on Wednesday. “Then I spoke with (Hockey Canada executives) Shawn Bullock and Joel Bouchard and they explained the situation to me and I was obviously pretty happy to come back.”

The 19-year-old Mahura was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks. With 11 goals and 18 assists in 28 games this season for the Western Hockey League’s Pats, Anaheim was attracted to his ability with the puck. But his team-best plus-15 rating in that span shows how capable he is defensively.

His well-rounded skillset is what earned him an invite to Canada’s selection camp, but defence is the hardest position to crack on Canada’s junior team. Fabbro, Jake Bean and Cale Klague returned from last year’s silver-medal squad and the Montreal Canadiens loaned Victor Mete out for the tournament.

But Fabbro’s ongoing issues with a lower-body contusion has kept him out of the lineup and opened the door for Mahura.

“Who knows what can happen? We need to prepare for everything,” said head coach Dominique Ducharme. “We said it before, Josh is a great kid, a great player. We had a lot of depth at camp on defence. It’s good to have him back with us, we’ll have to see what happens in the next few days.”

Fabbro played in an exhibition against Denmark last Friday but left the 5-2 win early as a precautionary measure. Ducharme says Fabbro is day-to-day but hasn’t skated this week. Canada faces Switzerland in Hamilton on Friday in another exhibition before beginning the world championship tournament on Dec. 26 against Finland in Buffalo, N.Y.

“With everything that’s going on, I’m not focusing on what’s going on on the outside,” said Mahura. “Just taking it day by day and having fun with it. It’s a great experience to be a part of so far.”

Fabbro, also 19, was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NHL draft by the Nashville Predators and has eight goals and 12 assists in 18 games for Boston University this season.