More than meets the ice
He's not just speed and finesse. Mason Raymond is something more on a hockey rink. "He's the fastest player on our team, and probably as fast as anyone in college hockey. He's a game-breaker," Minnesota Duluth sophomore center MacGregor Sharp sai...
He's not just speed and finesse.
Mason Raymond is something more on a hockey rink.
"He's the fastest player on our team, and probably as fast as anyone in college hockey. He's a game-breaker," Minnesota Duluth sophomore center MacGregor Sharp said of his linemate. "But in our last few games he's also been one of our most physical players. He gets right in there and finishes his checks.
"I've skated with him for four years and he's definitely as good as anyone I've played with."
Sophomore left winger Raymond gained notice, with Sharp, playing with Camrose in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He was Vancouver's second-round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, then was UMD's only player honored with a post-season award in 2005-06 when named to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association all-rookie team. This season he leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 11 points in 11 games entering today's home game with No. 13-ranked St. Cloud State.
Raymond's improvement from freshman to sophomore year has been considerable, says UMD coach Scott Sandelin.
"If you look at all the great players who have been in our league lately -- guys like Brett Sterling, Marty Sertich, Ryan Potulny and Chris Conner -- they're dynamic in their own way. But each one had that drive to be better, that drive that separates great players from good players," Sandelin said. "Mason has that tremendous passion. He can make a difference every time he's on the ice.
"He's at a different level than he was last year. He's stronger. He'll go into the corners to get the puck. He'll put guys on their heels with his speed."
The NCAA's directive in recent seasons to eliminate obstructing play has only helped players like Raymond. And he's helped give UMD man-advantage opportunities when opposing players can't keep up.
The Bulldogs have the top-ranked power play in the WCHA, and the second-best in Division I, with 18 goals (five by Sharp). Raymond has four goals total and has been UMD's most consistent player this season, along with freshman goalie Alex Stalock.
As a freshman, Raymond was second in team scoring to senior Tim Stapleton, despite not scoring in UMD's final 10 games. This season, UMD is 2-1-1 when Raymond has a goal.
"Everyone wants to be a goal-scorer, but I also want to contribute any way I can," said Raymond, who is an assistant captain. "Being a leader and giving a consistent effort every day, which is tremendously hard, are the most important things."
A goal and two assists by Raymond aided a 6-4 win at Northern Michigan in UMD's last game, breaking a five-game winless streak. This weekend marks the reuniting of Raymond and Sharp with right winger Nick Kemp. That line skated together for the second half of last season and the early part of this season until Kemp was injured after the fifth game.
When Raymond and Sharp were on the same line with Camrose in 2004-05, the Kodiaks won the AJHL playoff title and finished second in the Canadian Junior A finals. Raymond was league MVP with 82 points in 55 regular-season games.
Has he thought about the next step in hockey?
"My ultimate goal, my dream, is to play in the NHL," Raymond said. "But I'm a firm believer that you have to dominate the level you're playing before you think about moving on."