SPOTLIGHT: Justin MacPherson
The trade deadline has passed. Teams are formed, and there is a blanket of relief that comes over the team. Justin MacPherson knows the business of hockey, and he has experience on both sides of a trade. Being traded from Niagara this summer was hard for the 18-year-old defenceman, but Kitchener has always been where he wants to be.
“It was pretty crazy at first. you know I wasn’t expecting to get traded especially at that time in the summer,” said Justin. “Kitchener was where I wanted to be going into the draft, so it was good in the end. I had some connections here in Kitchener, too.”
Justin also knows the other side of a trade—seeing a brother leave.
“It’s a little different since I’ve been on both sides of it,” said Justin. “I’ve been traded, and I’ve seen teammates go. It’s a tough time.”
Near the end of the trade deadline, the Rangers traded Nick McHugh to the Mississauga Steelheads, which made the entire room emotional.
“All you want is the support of your buddies in that time,” said Justin. “As a team, it was a tough time when we lost Nick. Seeing him go through that is really hard. Going into a new situation and not knowing what to expect is difficult for anyone, but having the support of your teammates in a situation like that is huge. This one was tough to swallow.”
During difficult times, Justin looks to lead his team and help keep the morale up as one of the leaders on the squad—especially for the defensive core.
“Every year I step up a bit more,” said Justin. “Especially this year, our team is a bit younger, so you have to lead the young guys and teach them the ways. I love getting along with the rookies and helping them.”
One of the players that finds MacPherson’s leadership invaluable is defenceman, Donovan Sebrango.
“Sebrango is a great kid, and he has been awesome since he has been here,” smiled Justin. “He has stepped into a big role and is fantastic in the room. I love to joke around with him too.”
Being in more of a leadership role doesn’t come without hardships, and Justin knows that. As more of a quiet guy, he has to find alternative ways to keep the positivity afloat and lead through his actions.
“I had a nice talk with our assistant coach, Andreas the other day. He always says you can’t let the negativity spiral out of control. It’s just going to hurt you,” said Justin. “Even if it is just the little things, you have to push past them and work on yourself. It really resonates with me. I’ve always been a guy who has had to work a little bit harder for some things, and you just have to believe in yourself and focus on the positives in your life and keep working.”
With the second half in full swing and the final team formed, Justin is excited for what is to come.
“I think now is the time to lock in and this is where it starts,” said Justin. “Every year you come in, and you can see change. You go from the pre-season, to the first half, to the second half and then playoffs. It all ramps up. Now is our time to buckle in and really strive to make a push.”