By: Steph Coratti, GuelphStorm.com
For Mason Primeau, the game of hockey was a constant right from the start.
As the son of Wayne Primeau and nephew of Keith Primeau – both former NHL players with 14 and 15 seasons played respectively – picking up a passion was natural when growing up so close to the game.
“Mason started playing hockey when he was five,” Wayne shared, adding that Primeau began playing south of the border with the Middlesex Islanders organization in Boston.
“With Mason’s father and uncle both playing in the NHL, we decided to get him on skates,” Leanne Primeau, Mason’s mom, continued. “He enjoyed the experience and never looked back.”
Off the ice, Primeau remembers a further connection to the sport through his dad’s time in the NHL.
“I was pretty young, but I remember going into dressing rooms after the games, seeing the players and talking to them,” Primeau recalled. “I remember going to games, playoff games and all that stuff – even playing mini-sticks with other players’ kids. It was fun.”
Looking to fulfill the dream of his own career, Primeau checked off the first accomplishment in April when he was selected 22nd overall in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection by the Guelph Storm.
“I was just sitting at home with my family – I had [the draft] on my computer and my dad had it on his. My grandparents were over, and we were just sitting around waiting,” the Etobicoke, Ontario native explained. “I knew that if I went out of the first round, Guelph was definitely interested so as soon as I fell to 22nd, I knew that it would be my place.”
“I think it was [Scott Walker] who called my dad and asked if they were to draft me, if I would go, and obviously that answer was yes,” Primeau added. “A couple minutes later, I heard my name – next thing you know we’re on our way to Guelph.”
Upon arriving to the Royal City, the six-foot-five, 183-pound forward was handed a Storm jersey with his last name on the back – a jersey that, turning to his mom, the 16-year-old said he was never going to take off.
“I thought I was going to sleep with it,” Primeau said, laughing.
Now halfway through his first major junior season, Primeau is quick to recognize that very same constant who has been there from the start.
“He’s pretty much at all the games,” the Storm forward said of his dad. “He always tells me what I need to improve on after games, and still critiques my game a little bit, but it’s good, I need that.”
Advice that has helped the OHL rookie navigate his career’s biggest challenge to date: the adjustment period met in junior hockey.
“It’s the transition, getting used to how the game is played at this level as opposed to minor hockey,” Primeau explained. “Game in and game out, the team you play will always compete. There’s no easy games – I haven’t really played against any team where they haven’t had a chance to win. It’s the overall competition of this league.”
Also playing a big role are Karyn Sales and Jay Thomas, Primeau’s billets.
“They have been extremely good to me, and have made it so comfortable ever since I moved in,” Primeau said of who has helped him the most off the ice this season. “They allow me to perform at whatever level I’m able to, and have been the biggest help so far.”
Off the ice, described as quiet, yet always inquisitive by his parents, Primeau hasn’t strayed from his education either – something that has always been important to the former GTHL Top Prospects MVP.
“Mason takes great pride in his education and we are happy to see him continue to work hard at keeping his grades up,” Leanne said of her oldest son.
Through his dedication both on and off the ice, the Storm sophomore doesn’t hesitate in thanking two people who got him to this point.
“My parents for sure,” Primeau said. “My dad coached me from Atom up and he’s definitely a big influence on me, giving me tips and he’s obviously gone through it before, and my mom – she’s always been so supportive. I can’t thank them enough for sure.”