TRURO, N.S. – At just five-foot-10, 170 pounds, Cam MacLeod will never be the biggest guy on the ice.
But with speed to burn, a knack for scoring big goals and the ability to get under the opposition’s skin, the 20-year-old for the Truro Bearcats has always made his presence known.
“Sometimes his mouth gets him in trouble, but that’s part of what makes him tick,” said Bearcats coach Shawn Evans.
“He’s got speed, we’ve needed his goal production; it’s improved a little bit every year, and he’s a key guy for us. When he’s skating and he’s on the puck and he gets some open space, he’s dangerous.”
A 10th-round pick in the 2014 draft, MacLeod will finish his junior hockey career this season after spending the past three years with the Bearcats of the Maritime Junior Hockey League.
“I’ve loved my time here,” said the Dartmouth native. “It’s awesome. My billets (Farida Gabbani and Larry Anthony) are fantastic, the coaches are all great and the guys are great. I couldn’t be happier in Truro.”
MacLeod is a quick, heads-up player, which makes up for a size disadvantage against bigger and stronger players. He is a two-time 20-goal scorer in the MHL and was second in team scoring this season with 24 goals – including three game-winners – and 18 assists for 42 points.
“That’s the game now – the game’s about skating and speed and intelligence, and he has that,” Evans said.
MacLeod won league and Atlantic titles during his final season of midget hockey with the Newbridge Gladiators in 2014-15 and was a MHL champion with the Bearcats last season.
“He’s been a solid man for us for three years; I don’t have a complaint,” said Evans. “He’s already a champion in this league and I hope he can carry a little bit of that swagger with him against a really good opponent starting Thursday night.”
The Bearcats open their Eastlink South Division semifinal series on Thursday in Yarmouth against the Mariners.
The Mariners (35-14-1-0) won the division’s regular-season crown, while the Bearcats (28-20-1-1) finished fourth and will wear the underdog label in the best-of-seven series.
“I like it; I think our game all year has been as underdogs,” said MacLeod, an NSCC student. “We were battling for a playoff spot halfway through the year, so why not us? That’s what we’ve been saying; the underdog – it fits us perfectly.”
The Bearcats battled consistency during the regular season. However, they finished strong and won 14 of their last 19 games.
“It’s all about peaking at the right time,” said MacLeod. “There’s no championships won in September, October; it’s all about when you peak, so we’re playing really good hockey right now and I’m really proud of our group.”
Yarmouth won four of six regular-season games against the Bearcats. The series will be a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff tilt between the teams – albeit with their places in the standings reversed – which Truro took in five games, on their way to winning their fourth league title.