The hardest thing to do in the sport of hockey is score goals.
For Vancouver Canucks draft pick Aidan McDonough, it came pretty easy in the month of February.
McDonough was just named Hockey East Player of the month for the first time in his two-year NCAA career. Over his past six games, he has seven goals and four assists. It’s a great honour for McDonough but with where his team is at in their playoff race, he is more focused on winning the Hockey East conference playoffs instead of being the best player for one month.
The team’s goals are the goals that McDonough is currently focused on. “It’s definitely something that I didn’t even think about it until today,” said McDonough when asked about receiving the honours. “We’ve had some team success and that’s obviously helped. I’m playing on a great power play and getting set up from playing with great linemates. That all that really helps. So I think all the credit has to go to them for that.”
It’s didn’t take long for us to talk about the power play, as that’s where McDonough’s shot shines brightest.
He currently has six power play goals on the season, which’s good enough for sixth in the NCAA. Even through COVID cancellations, the team is beginning to gel and with it, the power play is looking deadly. McDonough has been able to calm himself and let the puck come to him for goals on the power play. “I think [the success] has to do with a couple of things. Early in the year, I was pressing a little bit too much, maybe putting a little bit too many expectations or pressure on myself to score the power play.”
Over the month of February, the power play was running at their highest rate of the short season. “Our unit as well has come a long way. It’s been hard to find that consistency with all the COVID stoppages and not playing a lot,” said McDonough. “We’re challenging ourselves to come up big in the big situations. We’ve been really good in the first period when we get a power play. We’re really good at getting the first goal of the game on the power play. Well, now we want to win games on the power play.”
McDonough’s shot from the right side is giving a lot of Northeastern Huskies fans some serious Adam Gaudette vibes as he was known for being a power play sniper from his off-wing on the power play.
He is progressing as a prospect and when I pressed on the question of when he will turn pro, he was not sure. “I honestly haven’t really haven’t taken any thought,” said McDonough. “With this year and the way it’s going, I think it’s a decision that would probably first have to come from the Canucks if they wanted to sign me but I think with this year and everything that’s gone on, it’d be pretty tough to leave. I just feel like I didn’t really get a full season and didn’t even compete and play in the Beanpot. Saying that, if I ever get that opportunity, I think that’s something that I would definitely consider. I’d have a good talk about it with my parents, my agent and the coaches.”
It’s definitely the right move, as McDonough still has a lot of room to grow. Not literally, his 6’3″ frame will tell you that.
This season he has become a much more consistent scorer. He is creating more offence at even strength and has become a deadly finisher in shootouts.
This Friday is the biggest matchup of the season for the Huskies.
During a stage COVID season, the Hockey East playoffs will be a one-game knockout format where the top teams will be ranked and play their way down to a final game. This Friday, the Huskies will play against one of their top rivals and number two ranked Boston College.
A win on Friday will give the Huskies a higher seed and a much easier path to the Hockey East championship.
The playoffs will go on for two weeks and there is no better time than now for McDonough. He is playing the best hockey of his NCAA career over the past month and is ready to take on the playoffs.
We will keep you updated on McDonough through the Huskies’ playoff run and then there could be an offer on the table from the Canucks with an early end to the NCAA season. Like I said earlier, I think another year at Northeastern will really benefit the long-term development for McDonough.
He’s a kid who loves that school and the environment that he is a part of. With the lost college experience due to COVID, I’m pretty confident he will be back at Northeastern in the fall for his Junior year.
That will be an interesting season as the Huskies team is so young and is adding another great crop of Freshmen to boost their explosive scoring group.
We will have you covered every step of the way and big-ups to Aidan McDonough for always willing to chat with me about his development through college hockey.
He’s one of the best prospects to have a talk with and all this success couldn’t come to a nicer person.