(EDMONTON) On a Saturday night, Jake Evans was quietly doing stretches during his warm-up at Rogers Place in Edmonton. Quietly, until a sound comes out of its bubble.
“Hey! Big head! I can’t believe your head is still this big compared to your body!”
That voice was Connor McDavid’s voice. The two knew each other as competitors at the Toronto junior hockey game. MacDavid was born in 1997, but because of his great talent, he played with 1996, the year Evans was born.
“We have mutual friends, we’ve seen each other a few times, but there must have been six or seven years since I haven’t seen him talking to me about my big head!” Said Evans amusing on the phone. At that time, he had heard that Big Head was a nickname Lee is on the team, and he always teased me with it. ”
However, we think McDavid had less of a desire to laugh after two hours. His passes intercepted by Evans in the second period were during a power game from Oilers. Evans then raced and scored, clinching his comeback.
“When you encounter the Edmonton Force Game, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisette … you don’t really try to score. You just want to neutralize them. Being so lucky was a special thing.”
It was one of Evans’ few matches against MacDavid on Saturday. Claude Julian relied mostly on Philip Danault and Nick Suzuki to watch the best player in the world, which is a rather difficult task for a novice.
But in another era, skating MacDavid trousers was exactly Evans’ role. The Canadian rookie thinks he has encountered McDavid “thirty good times”. Last duel: 2012 in the OHL Cup Final, a tournament that brings together the best troll teams in Ontario and a few American clubs.
McDavid was a member of the Toronto Marlies, a team that had two other NHL first-round picks in the future, Sam Bennett and Josh Ho-Sang. According to Elite Prospects data, Captain Oilers landed in the final with 18 points … in 6 matches!
Marlies were the favorites for this final against Mississauga Rebels. “They were winning 15-0,” Evans recalls. “It was crazy.” We’ve faced them about eight times during the season, and they’ve won at least six times, sometimes with five or six goals. ”
For the finale, MacDavid was in charge of Evans.
“Even younger, he was smart, responsible and not cheating,” said Jeff Shomoji, Mississauga coach at the time. So it wasn’t as if he was being pushed aside to tell him he was going to face McDavid. He only knew that was his role. He neutered her and was so proud. It’s not as fast as it is – no one – but it stayed on the right side of the disk. ”
The rebels caused a surprise in the end, winning 2-1 in overtime. McDavid helped score his team’s only goal. “One of the favorite games of my life,” Evans told us.
“It wasn’t an easy task. I know he’s amazing now, but tell yourself he was better, he’s even more dominant at mini hockey. He just started out with imp and he’s been skating. I was just trying to make his life difficult. Even if he had a point, I think he is They are contained fairly well. ”
This is where the fate of Evans and MacDavid collapsed.
In the fall of 2012, McDavid reached the Ontario Junior League at the age of 15, thanks to his status as an exceptional player. After three years of turning water into wine, it was first formulated by the Oilers in 2015 and already has 474 NHL points … at the age of 24.
Evans adds, “I’m still amazed to see him go.” He still did what he did to us when we were kids. When he starts skating at full speed, he feels like mini hockey because he’s so far superior. ”
Meanwhile, Evans played the next two seasons in Junior A League, OJHL, to maintain his NCAA eligibility. In 2014, he joined Fighting Irish at Notre Dame University, where he spent four years, while attaining his degree in management.
“Jake has a good hockey head,” Geoff Shomoji describes. He can see the ice rink very well. His weakness was in skiing. He manipulated her to get into the NHL, but he always had the intelligence. I’m happy for him because he seems to have found a good role in Montreal. ”
So, thanks to this long-running career, nine years later, Evans ended up playing again on the same ice, in the same league, as McDavid’s Phenomenon. He has yet to reach the point he regularly faces at 97, but if he continues to advance as a defensive position, who knows?
“At this point, I know that some bad games can cause me problems. So I work hard and want to play with confidence that I am in my place, but without the arrogance of thinking my job is safe.
“We all knew Connor was going to give up, but that wasn’t safe for me. We took different paths, we didn’t have the same potential. But it’s great to be on ice with the best player in the world.”
We bring it back on Monday evening.