Mason stickhandles to Knights record

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

Steve Mason is an incredibly helpful guy for the London Knights.

But who knew he was the most helpful goalie -- in terms of offensive production -- in the OHL team's history?

Thanks to his keen puck-handling and strong passes to start the rush, Mason picked up three assists on the weekend to give him seven on the season, a record for Knights goalies. He ranks 16th in team scoring.

"Goalie sticks get a bad rep," the 18-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets prospect said. "They're pretty light and they're not too difficult to handle. They're bigger but you hardly notice it."

Goaltender John Tanner had five assists for London -- six in total since he picked up one in Peterborough before being traded -- during the 1989-90 campaign. Tanner appeared in less games than Mason does but he played at a less restrictive time for goalies.

"(The trapezoid) behind the net isn't a concern any more," Mason said. "I'm used to it now. (Goalie coach) Dave Rook and I work on playing the puck every day in practice. I'm definitely looking for the pass out there. It's a big part of our power play. We're trying to catch the other team on a change if we can."

Mason often heads to the rink on days off to take shots on net. Before practices, he often fires the puck around with London's leading scorer Pat Kane.

"I played three years out as as a forward and defenceman when I started in hockey," Mason said. "(In Oakville) our house had an unfinished basement so I would go downstairs and maybe put roller blades on and handle the puck. I think all goalies like to play out some of the time because everyone likes to score goals."

Does Mason think he will score in a game?

"I would love to get a goal and I had two chances already this year -- I took a shot at an empty net in Mississauga but Sam (Knights forward Sam Gagner) intercepted it and it looked like it was on line," Mason said. "In Windsor, I had another empty net and was just about to shoot when the referee blew the whistle."

Former Philadelphia Flyer Ron Hextall remains the gold standard for puck-playing goalies. Hextall posted eight assists for the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings when he was Mason's age.

"I know all about Hextall and what he did," Mason said. "He scored two goals. He was good at playing the puck and wasn't afraid to leave the net."

Mason has his own little innovations. Though he normally doesn't stray too far from the cage, he often takes the puck out of his glove and puts it behind the net so he can play it there.

"He is very good at it and he makes good decisions, which is the most important part," London GM Mark Hunter said. "It's one thing to be strong and to be able to play the puck but to make a good pass and not get caught or turn it over, that's the biggest thing."


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