Canada’s Drake Batherson seizing the spotlight in Buffalo

Drake Batherson wore a wide grin as he sat on Canada’s bench and glanced at the white-taped blade of his magical stick.

The 19-year-old forward had just returned to the bench midway through the second period after he scored his second of three goals in Canada’s 7-2 semifinal victory against the Czech Republic at the world junior tournament in Buffalo on Thursday.

Canada will play Sweden, which defeated the United States 4-2 in the first semifinal, in the gold-medal final on Friday night.

Canada has been successful in this tournament because of its balance up front, talented blue line and strong goaltending. But you have to love the Drake and the late-bloomer story he’s authored leading up and through this tournament.

Batherson has scored a team-leading seven goals in six games, a total that has him tied for the tournament lead with American Kiefer Bellows and Filip Zadina of the Czech Republic.

Drake Batherson’s hat trick leads Canada to 7-2 victory, will will play Sweden in the gold-medal game Friday night. 1:38

Batherson’s magical stick actually has scored eight times. In the quarter-final outing against Switzerland on Tuesday, teammate Jordan Kyrou came to the bench after he lost his stick, grabbed Batherson’s and then went on to score a goal later that shift.

Batherson was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., began playing hockey in Germany and was raised in the Nova Scotia village of New Minas.

Comes from hockey family

He comes from a hockey family. His father, Norm, was good enough to play five seasons in the AHL and IHL, including with the Fort Wayne Comets, before winding down his career with eight more years in Germany. Younger sister Mae has committed to play at Syracuse University next year.

Mae, Norm and his wife, Deeann, have been in Buffalo in the good times. Here was a kid who wasn’t chosen until the sixth round of the 2015 QMJHL draft and didn’t make the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles until last year as an 18-year-old because he was too small.

He was overlooked in his first year of NHL draft eligibility and wasn’t picked until the fourth round last June when the Ottawa Senators selected him with the 121st pick of the 2017 entry draft. But he wasn’t on the Canadian junior team’s radar and failed to garner an invite to the Canadian junior team summer camp.

Batherson meets Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher after being drafted 121st overall at the entry draft this past June. ( Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A six-inch growth spurt over two years helped get the…

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