Successful NHL franchises are able to find gems late in the draft. It appears that Judd Brackett and the Vancouver Canucks scouting staff might have found one in Aidan McDonough.
McDonough, the Canucks 195th overall pick last year, was having a great year in the NCAA before COVID-19 shut the season down. The Milton, Massachusetts native scored 11 goals and had 16 assists in just 31 games in his first college season. McDonough uses his 6’3 frame well and had been a force on Northeastern’s power-play unit this season. He was second among all freshman in goals with the man advantage.
Another decent day for Vancouver prospects. Northeastern's Aidan McDonough tallies his 1st NCAA goal.— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 3, 2019
Give the primary to another Canuck prospect Tyler Madden, who sets up McDonough with the cross-crease pass. #HowlinHuskies #Canucks pic.twitter.com/9lhhBsBHIj
While in quarantine I was able to catch up with McDonough about life as a student athlete in the Hockey East conference and his relationship with some of the other Canucks prospects.
Noah Strang (Nucks Misconduct) : I know you grew up playing with fellow Canucks draft pick Jack Rathbone. Are you guys still friends and do you guys keep in touch? Can you speak a little bit to your relationship with Jack?
Aidan McDonough (Canucks Prospect): Yeah I played with Jack from first grade up until my senior year. His dad was my coach and we’ve been close friends for a long time. I talk to him probably everyday and I obviously haven’t been able to see him because of the quarantine but we still keep in touch. He’s a really good guy and obviously a really good hockey player. We’ve been sending each other some workouts and things to work on during these times.
Strang: This was your first year in the NCAA and you had a pretty smooth transition. Can you speak a little bit to the differences in the game between the NCAA and the USHL and what helped you transition so well to the next level?
McDonough: Yeah my transition this year was smooth and I think a lot of that credit goes to my coaches before NU (Northeastern University) and NU coaches and teammates. I think the USHL is such a great league and prepares you for college so well. A lot of the credit goes to my coach in Cedar Rapids Mark Carlson who really pushed me all year to grow in many aspects of my game. My coaches and teammates at NU made me feel comfortable and welcomed right away and provided me with an opportunity to play and my teammates helped so much both on and off the ice. I think a huge reason of why we have been successful the past few years is because of how welcoming and supportive everyone at school is to new players. We had 13 new guys and I felt like I’ve known them forever.
Strang: Fellow Canuck draft pick Tyler Madden is obviously on your team and unfortunately, he got traded this season. Are you guys friends and were you disappointed when you got the news he was traded?
McDonough: Tyler and I are good friends and I was definitely sad to see him go. He was my roommate on the road, line-mate, I sat next to him in the locker room and it was a blast playing with him and learning from him. I was sad to see him go but that’s the business of professional hockey and I think he’s going to be a really good NHLer soon.
Strang: How have you been passing the time in quarantine and has it been a struggle not being able to get the practice that you normally would?
McDonough: Yeah being in quarantine brings some challenges for sure. I just finished up school and that was definitely hard moving out of my dorm away from my teammates and doing school at home. I have been able to get into a good routine with working out with the program the trainers at school gave us and I have a area where I can shoot pucks in my backyard so I have been doing that a lot as well. I have been running at the local track and trying to work on things I need to get better at. For down time I’ve been playing board games with my family, going on bike rides and watching “The Sopranos.”
Strang: Playing in Hockey East seems like a great experience with so many storied programs. Is there one arena that you really like to play in?
McDonough: Hockey East is a really good conference and every weekend is a battle. I personally love playing at home and I think we have the best rink in college hockey. I love the history of the rink and the student section is always loud. For away games I think anytime we play at Boston College or Boston University is pretty special because you have so many friends on both teams and a lot of family and friends in the stands.
Strang: The NCAA has been in the news a lot recently and really the past few years and it looks like finally, players will be able to make some money off of their likenesses in the next couple seasons. Do you find it hard to balance school with hockey or do they make it easy for you?
McDonough: Yeah I think balancing hockey and school is something that requires a lot of time management and work. I luckily went to prep school so the transition of dealing with school and sports at the same time wasn’t too hard for me, but that is probably the biggest adjustment coming from juniors to college is dealing with time management and making sure you’re taking care of schoolwork and taking care of business on the ice. There is a lot that goes into being a student athlete but we have great resources and help at Northeastern. Our coaches and academic advisors help us with anything we need and make sure we are staying on track. It’s definitely an adjustment but we are very grateful for the help we get.
Strang: Finally, have you ever been to Vancouver and if so how did you like it and if you could choose one NHL goalie to score on who would it be?
McDonough: Yeah I was in Vancouver for a about a week for development camp. It was awesome and it’s such a nice area. Being from the East Coast I’ve never been to Western Canada and it’s beautiful out there. I would be happy to score on any NHL goalie but if I could chose any it would be Carey Price.
Thanks again to Aidan for sitting down and doing this. We wish you all the best in your hockey career, and hope to see you donning the blue and green soon.