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Welcome back to The Fan on 660 AM, 101.9 FM, in New York City. The new SHL/SMJHL season opens tomorrow, and even in the downtime between seasons, we've had a lot going on with drafts, internationals, sanctions and preseason games to prepare for Season 41. We bring once again a guest we've had on a few times before from last season, Halifax Raiders defenseman Reginald MacIntyre, who as fans here may recall, was drafted to the hometown Manhattan Rage with their fifth overall choice. Reggie, good to have you back. How have things been lately?
This offseason has been a massive roller coaster ride. I have been joyous with several occasions this offseason and also saddened at others.
Let's start with the SHL Draft. The media seemed to initially peg you as the first overall before the draft lottery. Once that order settled, though, the consensus among mock drafts were split between you going third to Toronto or fifth to Manhattan, excluding San Francisco because they forfeited their fourth pick. How do you feel about where you landed and when they took you up?
As I said in another offseason article, I would have been content to be drafted. I was honored I was in someone's priority plans, and with how their organization has treated me so far, I will be pleased to play for them once they call me up down the line. For now, they need me to continue to grow in the minors and help Halifax with the rebuilding process.
That leads me to my next topic, the Raiders' roster changes. Your new GM gave away a couple of big guys from last season's team in Ensio Kalju and Iam Essellemm. Karno Grönkjær was also called up to the majors, leaving you without three key contributors and a lot of young guys and free agents to fill in. They also bartered off the fourth overall for a later pick and more picks in the next two seasons. Does that bother you any?
It is sad to have seen Kalju and Essellemm leave, though I understand the club needed to do what was in its own best interests for the long-term. Part of it involves considering what the team will get keeping them and what they could get trading them. Ultimately, management decided we needed to start a rebuild sooner rather than let the floor fall out from underneath once they were called up.
Part of that also included trading our fourth overall pick this season to move down to 13th in exchange for more picks in the next two seasons for rebuilding. I am happy to help out the new players and help them grow into their roles with the club in the meantime and back management's decisions.
You've had a busy offseason yourself, as well, getting called up after your rookie SMJHL season to play for the United Kingdom's senior squad at the IIHF tournament. What a surprising and fantastic run from you guys, even as you fell in the gold medal game to the boys here from the USA. What's your takeaway from that kind of run in your first call-up?
I was thrilled to have been a part of it and carved out my own little statline from it. Jack Durden, Randy Randleman, Raven Silverwing and were phenomenal for us on the scoring front. Jasper Clayton and Bob Bergen were stout on our blue line, Cameron Dubois put in a good share into the attack, and in our net, Michael McFadden stood stout. Only through a late-stage stumble did we not clinch the top seed in our group, though with how Norway were upset, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.
It nearly overwhelmed me at the end of the Ireland game when it set in just how real this run was. The Irish pulled their keeper around the 18-minute mark, and I had retrieved a shot Redding blocked before passing to him. While their defense put on a valiant effort to defend their empty goal, with our numbers turning on them, it was all too probable. The empty-net goal to put us up 4-2 really lit the fire in us to carry on into the semifinals.
You didn't play at all in the semis against Austria. Any reason for that?
I suffered a knock in training the day before and our GM didn't want to risk it, even for a rookie. I still watched that game and felt we were still electric from overcoming our rivals, Ireland, and it carried through to our victory over Austria, also high on an upset run.
Back to the previous subject, we had to remind ourselves before and after the gold medal game we had come further than anyone expected. Our most optimistic projections were for bronze. No one expected us to make the championship. Even as the USA simply outclassed us, we still made the most improbable run of the lot, even if Austria will argue their case as a smaller nation on the rise in international hockey.
Ending on that note has left me hungry to go again next offseason. While it will be without a major contributor in Silverwing as he goes into retirement, I feel we will still have plenty enough to go at it again next time around and we will be even more motivated to aim for gold. Also, despite the doubt I had about the others saying so, we actually did get to meet the Queen following our tournament in honor of matching the highest point British hockey has attained on the world stage. I still hunger for the day we top it and win gold.
Once you had finished your duty there, you had to hop a plane to go meet the Ireland/UK team at the World Juniors. You had a bit of confusion on social media about doubling up on international duty.
Yes. I had initially believed my call-up to the UK senior squad would preclude selection for the juniors tournament. I was mistaken and I received my itinerary to report to them on the double. That tournament has started off rough, though it's not the end in that one if we finish bottom of the group since all will qualify for knockouts. Just that we may not expect as much in that run, either.
And, finally, you've had some preseason duty with the Raiders as well. How has that been going?
We've found out pretty fast how much this rebuild may hurt. Just from our raw performances, we know how much depth we sacrificed on defense for the aforementioned future development, though every club will go through rebuilding pains time and again. With a more physical game also encouraged from me starting on the first line now with Jon Toner, it has been a different game altogether.
I go for hits a bit more than I do for the shot block now. I understand penalties pile up a little more from that physical game, though that also comes with the increased ice time. That fight with Michael O'Dowd in one of those games, though...I would rather not discuss that. It was quite an embarrassing flash of emotion and, for the first time, I let it overcome me. I will talk with someone to deal with that better next time out. It's a different game on the first line, though we will figure out how to adjust with who we have.
Alright, and that's all the time we have for this slot. Thank you for coming by again and good luck with the rest of your preseason and World Juniors run.
Coming up next on The Fan, will the Buffalo Stampede finally make this the season they flip the script? What's up with Hamilton's preseason and them falling short of expectation? And will the Dragons stand strong in their title defense this year? That and more, after the break.