By Dave Leaderhouse
Good things happen to those deserving of them and they can happen in the blink of an eye; Nipawin Hawks’ defenceman Josh McDougall can certainly attest to that.
The 19-year-old McDougall officially accepted a scholarship to Mercyhurst University in Erie, Penn., on Friday and he said that the whole process took “a month or so.”
“I did go for a visit last week and it’s a nice small school that I thought I could see myself being at for the next four years,” says McDougall, who acknowledged he also had one other offer on the table before settling on Mercyhurst. “I thought it was the best fit for me; they have three seniors (on the back end) leaving next year so I thought there was a lot of opportunity for me to hop in as a freshman.”
The 5-foot-10, 182-pound McDougall is in his second full season with the Hawks and the Prince Albert product is on pace to shatter his point production from last year as he already has 19 points in his first 15 games compared to a very respectable 30 points in 53 contests as a rookie one year ago.
Nipawin head coach and general manager Doug Johnson was very pleased with the signing and said that McDougall is very deserving of the offer.
“There is obviously a lot to like about Josh,” says Johnson. “He’s had a great start to the year and going into this year there were big things expected of him.”
Johnson is very proactive in getting his players opportunities to continue playing at a higher level while also gaining a post-secondary education. He says he has met the assistant coach from Mercyhurst in the past, but the player still has to be the one to sell themselves and he feels McDougall’s play, not just this year but throughout his entire career, was a big factor in the school stepping up and making an offer.
“We touch base with a lot of schools, but at the end of the day it is school that has to watch the players and make their decisions,” says Johnson.
McDougall, who was named to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s all-rookie team in 2016-17, came to the Hawks after two very successful seasons with the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. McDougall never missed a game in his two years with the Trojans and in 88 games he notched 22 goals and added 43 assists. The league acknowledged his fine play by naming him to the first all-star team in his final year of midget eligibility.
“What I wanted to get the most out of my junior career was an opportunity to advance to the next level and I guess I am going to be doing that,” says McDougall, who is still undecided about what he plans to study at Mercyhurst, but says there are plenty of options.
With his future taken care of McDougall can now concentrate on the final stretch of his junior career and that begins with a gruelling three-games-in-three-nights swing through the southern portion of the province. The Hawks enter the weekend five points back of the Sherwood Division-leading Melfort Mustangs and McDougall is well aware that a strong weekend could push them past their fierce rivals. That would be icing on the cake as McDougall says the strong play by the Hawks early in the season helped him tremendously with his future plans.
“I think the good start by the team was beneficial for me getting this scholarship,” says McDougall.
His play, now and in the past, didn’t hurt either.