Masin, Spencer Make Jump From Peterborough to Syracuse

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Dominik Masin and Matthew Spencer’s change of scenery came quickly.

After their junior season ended in a Game 7 loss to North Bay in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs on April 5, the Peterborough Petes defensive pairing was on the ice for Syracuse Crunch practice less than 48 hours later.

One week into their stay in Syracuse, the duo are looking to learn what they can together before they take different paths next season.

“It’s been a whirlwind so far, especially coming off a tough seven game series in the OHL playoffs,” Spencer said. “Coming right here was all pretty quick, but it’s been great. The facilities are awesome and everyone has been treating the new guys extremely well.”

Masin, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2014 second-rounder who signed an entry level contract with the club last October, registered eight goals and 32 assists in 57 games with the Petes during the regular season, and added three assists in the playoffs.

The 6-3, 198-pounder from the Czech Republic made his Crunch debut in Syracuse’s 3-2 shootout win over Toronto Saturday.

“It’s great to play your first pro game,” Masin said. “It’s different than junior, but I enjoy it and it feels great.”

Although Masin was on the ice when the Marlies scored 33 seconds into the game, Crunch head coach Rob Zettler saw the 20-year-old get more acclimated as the game went along.

“It was a tough first couple shifts, but then he seemed to settle in,” Zettler said. “He got comfortable with the speed and comfortable with the skill level out there. Not always a great start being minus-1 on your first shift — and that may rattle you a little bit — but (Masin) steadied his game and got himself back to even. He played well throughout the second and third period.”

Spencer, who signed an entry level deal Tuesday, is waiting to make his pro debut, but Zettler saw the 2015 second-rounder at various camps.

“He’s a skilled guy who moves the puck well,” Zettler said. “He’s a big guy who skates well. I haven’t seen him play since September, but I’ve heard good reports on what he’s done with Peterborough.”

Spencer recorded five goals and 19 assists in 60 regular season games this season. In 191 career OHL games, the 19-year-old from Oakville, Ontario, has 12 goals and 57 assists.

“This year the coaches asked me to play more of a shutdown role, where I go up against the top lines on other teams,” the 6-1, 207-pounder said. “I was perfectly happy with playing that position, and I thought I did it effectively this year. I’m not exactly sure what will go on next year — whether my role will stay the same or not — but I’m looking forward to it either way.”

While Masin is likely to start next season in Syracuse, Spencer will be headed back to Peterborough if he doesn’t make the Lightning out of camp.

“One thing I’ll probably take back is a little more confidence,” Spencer said. “You get the chance to play with some really good players, maybe a bit better than in junior. So that experience will be big for me to return home with.”

Both players agreed that having a junior teammate by their side has helped in their season-ending stint with Syracuse.

“It’s really something special for another guy to go through the experience with you,” Spencer said. “You feel a little more at home even though you’re in a new place and with a new team.”

Masin and Spencer will look to learn what they can in the remaining week with Syracuse before heading their separate ways next season.

“I’m just trying to take it all in at the moment,” Spencer said. “Just going on the road or these practices and seeing the work ethic some of the older guys show every day. That’s a big thing.”

Pictured: Crunch defenseman Dominik Masin makes a pass against the Marlies at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.