By Neate Sager – Buzzing The Net
KINGSTON, Ont. — For Max Domi, the less said about last season’s national junior team non-invite, the better.
The 19-year-old London Knights captain, who along with Darnell Nurse was one of the more obvious omissions from the final selection camp roster for a Team Canada that finished out of the world junior medals, has a way of being in the moment. All that mattered after getting the first two goals of Team OHL’s 5-1 win over Team Russia, which prevented the visitors from clinching the Subway Super Series with two games to spare, was that he saved some face for his league.
“I have no idea [what has changed], to be honest with you,” said Domi, who was named Team OHL’s player of the game and was cheered appreciatively throughout the night. “The one difference is we won this year, we didn’t win any games last year. That’s one difference.”
Both OHL fixtures of the series were of the ‘closer than the scoreboard would indicate’ variety, as Russia won 4-0 in Game 3 last Thursday in Peterborough. Monday, it was anyone’s game early on until the final five minutes of the first period. On a power play, Michael Dal Colle made a soft yet crisp pass that Domi skated on to before beating goalie Denis Kostin. His second goal was vintage Max, as he beat Kostin with a move to the forehand to put Team OHL ahead 2-0 after 20 minutes
“It was huge,” he said. “We got a little embarrassed. We ran into a hot goaltender the first game and we were a little nervous. We wanted to come out of our part in the series even and we had a strong effort overall. And everyone played great tonight.”
Another vignette that might have illustrated Domi’s maturity came when Canada was up 3-0 in the second. After losing the puck in Russia’s zone, he raced back to harry Vyacheslav Leshchenko into coughing it up, using his stick judiciously, eschewing the over-aggressiveness that often hastens a penalty parade for Canada come Christmastime. A few shifts later, Josh Ho-Sang buried a penalty shot for a 4-0 lead and Russia was looking ahead to Tuesday’s tilt vs. Team QMJHL in Bathurst, N.B.
Domi has 40 points over 19 games for the Knights, which has gone nearly unnoticed due to the hoopla over Connor McDavid and the fact OHL observers are used to seeing him put up gaudy numbers. It’s become like clockwork. Meantime, being London’s captain rests lightly on those broadening shoulders.
“It’s really weird [being captain], to be honest with you because it was just yesterday that I was 16 and playing my first game, throwing that jersey on for the first time,” he said. “I’ve come a long way, played with some great teammates and the Knights organization is second to none.”