Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin had something they aren’t used to during the winter months — downtime from time hockey.
They spent some of it watching TV. Video games were also a go-to favourite.
But now the rest is over for the two 17-year-olds, who played for Canada at the world junior hockey championships in Ufa, Russia, and the focus returns to hockey and the Halifax Mooseheads.
“It was some needed rest,” MacKinnon said after being one of the last players off the ice following practice on Thursday, his first time on skates since Canada’s loss to Russia in the bronze medal game on Jan. 5. “But I’m back with the Mooseheads now.”
The world juniors can be a gruelling experience, especially when overseas. There’s first making the team, then the travel, and finally the pressure-filled games over the course of two weeks.
But MacKinnon and Drouin say they are both ready and excited to return to the lineup Friday when Halifax hosts the Blainsville-Boisbriand Armada at 7 p.m.
“I’m good. I feel good,” MacKinnon said. “I think I’ve adjusted back to this time. I’m ready to go for the second half.”
Drouin saw more ice time in Russia than MacKinnon and played a bigger role. Drouin also displayed his gifted offensive skills, which has led him to now being mentioned as a likely top-5 pick for this year’s NHL draft.
“I think my stock went up a little bit, but I wasn’t going there to do that,” said Drouin, who arrived in Halifax Thursday afternoon and rejoined his teammates following practice. “I was trying to win a gold medal for Canada and that didn’t happen. That’s just the way it went.”
Halifax will also have Martin Frk back in the lineup Friday after he played for Team Czech Republic. The Mooseheads went 8-1-1 with its top three scorers away to remain the Canadian Hockey League’s top-ranked team.
“They did an unreal job,” MacKinnon said. “They lost a couple of games, but that’s it.”