Jared McCann is taking advantage of his latest opportunity with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
McCann, a former first-round draft pick from Stratford, was recently thrust into the team’s second-line centre role after a flurry of injuries struck the Pens’ roster. The 24-year-old has three goals and six points during a four-game point streak, including the winner in Monday’s 2-1 triumph over the New York Islanders.
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“We’re playing a complete game,” McCann said afterwards in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We’re doing the simple things to win games.
“The worst thing you can do is make things difficult. Sometimes you’ve got to make some things simple, and it will go your way, and sometimes if it doesn’t, you just got to stick with it, work hard and eventually things will start to go your way.”
McCann’s sizzling stretch extends to his defensive game. He hasn’t been on the ice for a goal scored by an opponent since returning March 20 from a 10-day injury absence, and he’s only been on the ice for five goals against in more than 243 minutes of five-on-five ice time this season, according to the Pittsburgh paper.
“Jared is playing a solid game right now,” Pens’ head coach Mike Sullivan said earlier this month.
For the season — his second full campaign in Pittsburgh — McCann has eight goals and 16 points in 23 games. His 17.4 shooting percentage is a career best and nearly double his output from 2019-20, when he went scoreless over the last 22 regular season games and was and was stymied in three playoff games against Montreal.
McCann’s first goal of 2021 came in his fifth game, and Sullivan told the Trib it came down to confidence.
“You want to make plays. You want to do all the right things,” McCann added. “But at the end of the day, if you play the 200-foot game you want to play, you’re going to help get two points for the team.”
Jacob Middleton scored his second goal of the season Tuesday night to help the San Jose Barracuda erase a two-goal deficit in a 4-3 win over the Bakersfield Condors.
Trailing 2-0 in the second period, Middleton started the comeback with a seeing-eye snipe from the top of the left faceoff circle.
The 25-year-old defenceman from Stratford has five points in 14 games with the Sharks’ American Hockey League affiliate. Middleton has also played one game with the NHL club.
Wallace’s Mitch Deelstra was named Ferris State men’s hockey Rookie of the Year for 2020-21.
Deelstra, 21, a former Huron-Perth Laker and Listowel Cyclones’ forward, scored seven goals and added four assists in 25 games for the NCAA Division 1 team. Three of his goals came on the power play.
The Bulldogs went 1-23-1 and lost in two straight to No. 3 Minnesota State Mankato in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association quarter-final.
With 20 underclassmen from the 2020-21 roster set to return, the Bulldogs will join the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for the 2021-22 campaign.