Macklin Celebrini does things on the ice that even surprise his big brother.
The 17-year-old forward from North Vancouver, who’s the favourite to go No. 1 overall in next summer’s NHL Draft, had one goal and four assists in Team Canada’s 10-0 romp over Latvia Wednesday at the world junior championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Canada continues the tournament Friday, taking on the Swedes.
The world juniors have Celebrini on hiatus from his freshman season with the Boston University Terriers. His teammates there include older sibling Aiden Celebrini, 19, a freshman defenceman who was the Vancouver Canucks’ sixth-round pick in last summer’s draft.
“I’ve grown to expect that level of excellence from him, but even at times he does things that blow my mind,” Aiden said Thursday afternoon after Boston University practice. “That’s why he’s such an electric player, such a great player. You think you have the book on him and he creates something that even you don’t expect.
“He’s exceeded my expectations at times and I’m his biggest fan.”
Aiden says that the Terriers are watching the world junior games in small groups right now. Boston University has three players there. The matchup with the Swedes sees Macklin faceoff with his Boston University teammate Tom Willander, 18, a freshman defenceman who was the Canucks’ first pick, No. 11 overall, in last summer’s draft.
Boston University sophomore defenceman Lane Hutson, 19, is with the Americans at the tournament.
“We were just talking about having three guys on three of the top teams. It would be really cool to see one of them come home with the gold medal. Hopefully it is Canada,” Aiden said.
Boston University has 29 players listed on its roster. Willander is the lone Euro. The Celebrini brothers are part of a five-Canadian contingent. The rest of the players are Americans.
The Americans are cheering for Macklin and the Canadians through the early part of the tournament, according to Aiden. The two teams aren’t meeting in the preliminary round, but they could square off in the playoffs.
“It’s definitely going to be a big rivalry if it ends up being Canada and the U.S.,” Aiden said of Terrier territory.
Boston University continues its schedule Friday, visiting the Yale Lions. They then have an exhibition game against the visiting SFU Red Leafs on Jan. 5. That’s the same day as the world junior gold medal game.
Aiden was paired with Willander at Boston University early on in the year, but the defence tandems have been rotating of late. The Terriers are 11-4-1 and ranked No. 2 in the NCAA in the most recent national poll, trailing only the Boston College Eagles (13-3-1).
Aiden is a 6-foot-1, 195-pound right shot D-man who spent last season with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior A league. He has one goal, four points and a plus-four rating through 14 games with the Terriers. He’s been connecting regularly with Mike Komisarek, the former NHL defenceman who’s part of the Canucks player development department.
Komisarek, 41, played 551 games in the NHL. He’s working with Canucks prospects based in the east.
“I’ve come into a great defensive corps. It’s a good development year for me,” Aiden said. “There’s no better place anywhere to develop as an elite hockey player. The support we have here, the coaching we have here, is second to none. I’m trying to develop my game as much as I can over the four years and take that step into the big leagues.
“The Canucks have been great. They’ve been super hands on. I’ve grown a great relationship with Mike Komisarek. He’s someone that I’ve been able to get advice from. He’s lived it. He’s one of the guys who can coach me and teach me through experience. He had a career I could only dream of emulating.”
Aiden says he and Willander talk about the Canucks frequently.
“We’ve grown a great friendship. We both dream about one day taking that step together,” Aiden said.
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