Mason relishes hectic life

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

KINGSTON -- The life of a rookie goalie in the OHL tends to be a nomadic one.

London's Steve Mason didn't have much time to celebrate his 5-2 victory over the Ottawa 67's on Friday night at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Instead, he was on a train Saturday morning so he could start in Petrolia that night and help the Jets wrap up their Western Junior B Hockey League quarter-final series in five games over Tecumseh.

On Sunday, he popped up before the sun had risen and was back in a car with London assistant GM Jim McKellar and defenceman Andrew Wilkins for a trip to Kingston to serve as backup to starting goalie Adam Dennis yesterday afternoon against the Frontenacs, a game the Knights won 5-4 in overtime.

"I'd rather be up here (with the Knights) than in junior B," the candid 17-year-old Oakville native said. "It's a tough readjustment because everything's slower, the shots come slower in junior B. I definitely thought I played better in Ottawa than I did with Petrolia."

Despite his feelings, London is trying to get Mason as much game action as they can find for him this year. With the 21-year-old Dennis among the top goalies in the league, his backup has only started five games this season.

"That's part of being a rookie and growing up as a player," London assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said. "You don't get your proper rest (on a five-hour train ride), but we want him to play as much as possible."

Mason never knows on a day-to-day basis if he will suit up for the Jets and isn't sure if he will play in their semifinal series. The deal between London and Petrolia is Mason will be loaned to the Jets only as a starter and will remain with the Knights the rest of the time.

Mason is hoping to start two more times with London this regular season because the Knights close out with two straight weekends of three games in three days.

Wilkins, who has been suiting up for the London Nationals in their first-round series against St. Marys, dressed for the Knights Sunday but will be back with the Nats tomorrow to try to close out the Lincolns.

"It's been a crazy week with a lot of travel and games," the five-foot-10, 170-pound Wilkins said. "(On Saturday) I just sat in bed all day and ate and drank water as much as I could."

Though Wilkins loves playing with the Knights, he is excited to help the Nats go as far as they can this post-season

"We have a fun group of guys and it would be a great upset because they're (St. Marys) a first-place team," said Wilkins, who drew an assist in Sunday's game.

"We gave up three short-handed goals to St. Marys and we can't do that -- they have a lot of offence on their team."


Photos