Nate McDonald was hoping Colton Point would be returning for one more year of NCAA hockey.
That would have potentially set the scene for the first ever clash of two North Bay goaltenders in the same conference in the NCAA.
However, Point, who finished a stellar season in Colgate last year, signed an NHL contract with the Dallas Stars earlier this summer.
“It is great to see, it is good for the city of North Bay, it is good for minor hockey here, I am really happy for him,” McDonald said about Point.
“I was hoping to play against him because Colgate and Cornell are both in the ECAC so it would have been cool to have a North Bay goalie battle.”
McDonald knows he is in a battle for playing time this season as he makes the jump from Junior A - where he split the season in the OJHL between Whitby and Markham - to NCAA Division I hockey.
“Obviously it is a big jump going from junior A tier II to NCAA Division I hockey, the guys are a lot faster and a lot stronger,” noted McDonald.
“I will be going in as a 19-year-old playing against 24 or 25-year-old guys at the most so this summer I am really focusing on my speed, getting stronger in the gym and getting accustomed to bigger, faster shots from older guys.”
For the first time, McDonald is working on a strong summer training regiment, which is something he had not done in the past. Local goalie coach Dan Spence, of 360 Goaltending, believes McDonald will have a solid transition to the NCAA.
“He is what we want our goalies to pursue to be like within our hockey school,” said Spence.
“He is out there pushing the same way and he is one of those guys that makes the other people around him better and his teammates are going to notice that this year. At Cornell he is going to make them better at practice, maybe pushing them every chance he gets and he is ultra-competitive which is what you want to see with your goaltender.
“There is not let up in his game whether it is the first shot or the last shot.”
Regardless, the 2017 NOJHL MVP who led the Powassan Voodoos to their first NOJHL title, says he is ready to face the new challenge with the Cornell Big Red, battling for playing time as the rookie against the two returning goalies.
“I don’t want to have too many expectations I just want to go in and focus on myself,” said McDonald.
“There are two good goalies there right now and it is always healthy to have a good goalie battle, it is a friendly competition and I am just hoping I can go in and help the team any way I can, whether that is at practice pushing my goalie partners to be better and if everything goes well hopefully I will get into a couple of games there this year too.”