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About an hour south of Saint Paul in the unassuming city of Fairbault, Minnesota lies a hockey destination that is of another world.

"It's kind of a hockey heaven," said Shattuck-St. Mary's director of hockey Tom Ward. The school has developed an on-ice reputation over the last 20 years that attracts the best talent in the world.

"We're not in to gadgets, the treadmills, the shooting machines and all that kind of stuff. It's pretty spartan here, but it's good. It's about ice time," said Ward. "We talk about the greatest thing we have here is you can sweat."

Crosby. Toews. Parise, and now MacKinnon,

"He was about as passionate as they come," said Nathan's former coach at Shattuck John LaFontaine.

"It's fun to watch him because he's not this giddy little squirly kid anymore like he was. He's a young man," said Ward.

MacKinnon spent his 9th and 10th grade years at Shattuck.

"I went there for hockey but I grew up so much as a person. Living away from home at such a young age you have to grow up pretty quickly and it was a great experience for me," MacKinnon told 9NEWS.

"The same things he was doing as a young player is what he's doing now," said LaFontaine. "You just don't expect him to do it as an 18-year-old in the NHL."

The old rink at Shattuck is known as "the barn". It's decorated with pictures and jersey's from some of the hockey program's most recognizable faces. They will soon have to reorganize to make room for the Avs rookie sensation.

"He's a great young man and he stands for everything that is good about hockey. It's great to see," said Ward. "And good for Nathan."

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