Team Canada juniors played Russia tonight in their first world championship pre-tournament game.
For Team Canada hopeful Max Domi, the game is perhaps a little more meaningful than for his teammates because he’ll be skating in the same rink where his dad wore the blue and white of the Leafs.
Unlike most up-and-coming hockey players, Max Domi had the rare advantage of having a father who played in the NHL.
But he wasn’t just any NHL’er, Tie Domi is Maple Leaf royalty, which makes Max somewhat of a prince, who fondly remembers, as a youngster sneaking out for the odd morning skate at the Air Canada Centre: “It’s an awesome building obviously, a lot of history there. Just skating around centre ice, looking up seeing all those empty seats and hoping one day I’ll get to play in front of a packed house.”
Max has been playing in front of a full house in London for the past four years. He’s scored 17 goals and 41 assists already this season.
If he’s selected to represent Canada, as many believe he will be, he’ll return to the ACC when the World Junior tournament reaches the playoff stage.
He wasn’t invited to the junior team selection camp last year, but since then, head coach Benoit Groulx has been keeping track of the young Domi’s improvement: “And every time I watch him play he was good, so I’m not surprised the way he’s performing here and we expect him to be a good player for us.”
This week, Domi has been playing on a line with 2014’s second-overall draft pick Sam Reinhart, who was selected by Buffalo, and Anthony Duclair, who’s on loan from the New York Rangers.
Reinhart says it’s a welcome reunion that dates back to the Ivan Hlinka tournament two summers ago, and the chemistry was re-kindled this week: “He’s a fast guy, gets open and creates space for everyone, so it’s been nice playing with him.”