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Minor Updates from Mike McKenzie

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For St. Lawrence 100-point man and current Florida Everblades forward Mike McKenzie is keeping a journal of his life in American minor hockey. He has agreed to let me share his journals with you every Sunday.

These words are his own. If you would like to ask Mike a question, e-mail me (dcassavaugh@wdt.net">dcassavaugh@wdt.net) and I will pass it along.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMcKenzie11

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January 6, 2011

I have been slacking lately, haven’t written an entry in four days so here we go. It’s nice to be back at home in Florida for a week. Not much is new around these parts. Last night we had a game against Cincinnati and lost.

One funny thing about living in the Fort Myers/Naples area is I know so many people or families who have condos or houses down here, so I get to meet up with people I have not seen in a long time or would otherwise never really see. It seems like every week I find out someone else I know is down in my neck of the woods. This week I found out one of my best high school friend’s family has a place near me and they were nice enough to take me out dinner on Tuesday to Carrabbas (that and PF Changs are my favorite places to eat around here. I don’t know why they don’t have these places in Canada, but that’s another complaint for another day). They also came to the game on Wednesday, so it was great to see them.

Also, at the game Wednesday, I got to see the parents of one of my best college pals who were also down on vacation. I knew both these groups of people were going to be there, but before the start of the third people I was waiting in the hall to go on the ice and I hear a guy yelling, “LETS GO MACKERRRRRRRR.” I looked down the hall and standing there was a guy I grew up playing lacrosse with and hockey against whose family are friends with mine. After the game I got to see him and his family, which was a pretty cool surprise. You never know who you could see at good old Germain Arena on a Wednesday night.

At the risk of pumping my own tires I will mention quickly that I won rookie of the month today for the month of December. It is obviously a great honor and a feather in my cap, but it means nothing if I don’t continue to play well. Awards and recognition is always nice to get, but it often isn’t the truest measure of how you are playing. That being said I will take what I can get and move on from here. Hopefully January is another good month for the Blades and me.

January 7, 2011

January has not been kind to me or my team. We lost again tonight and it was one of my worst games of the year. I put forth an embarrassing effort and that is unacceptable because the thing I pride myself on is being consistent and showing up for every game. Not every game will always go well but the one thing I can control is showing up and trying my best, and I didn’t do that tonight for whatever reason. My dad was obviously watching the game online because he let me know how he felt via text message after the game, and even though it was frustrating to read I knew he was right and the frustration was more with myself. Some people may not understand why a father would get involved and do this, but that is the relationship we have and have always had. Without him being hard on me like this I would never be playing anywhere near this level and I know he is just trying to help me improve as a player and person so it’s all good. OK enough talk about that game, it’s gone to hockey heaven.

Lately our team has been really hurting with injuries and call-ups so we have been a bit short on bodies. Tonight we needed an extra forward so former Everblade and local legend Ernie Hartlieb came out of retirement to play for us. Ernie is a great guy and is currently doing the radio broadcast for our games so it was pretty funny to see him at pre-game skate and on the ice for the game. Only in the minors would you see a team’s radio guy come out of retirement for a weekend to play. Classic.

January 9, 2011

Well, it’s Sunday morning, which usually means a full day of rest and relaxation. Today is no different other than the fact a nine-hour bus trip departing at 11 p.m. tonight is looming over my head. Even though I will just be getting on the bus and going right to sleep I can just never relax the same way when I know I still have to pack and then sleep the night on the bus. I suppose if that is one of my major complaints about my job right now. Other than that, life is good.

We took another loss last night but we did get a point out of it for getting it to OT and the shootout. It was a real back and forth game and a good game for the fans to see. I’m sure the coaches didn’t approve as much, though, with the amount of goals. Another professional first for me happened last night as I got into my first pro fight. Playing college hockey for the last four years meant I had not had a fight since my days in junior hockey, so it had been a while for sure. Our team was down 3-1 at the time so I figured it was as good as any time to get the first one out of the way.

Hockey is a funny game and I’m sure anyone who has ever played it will agree with me when I say there are nights when the game seems so easy and other nights where it can be the hardest, most frustrating game in the world. In the last week or so hockey has been the hard game for me. Pucks that were bouncing for me earlier are not now and no matter how hard I work, it seems like I can’t accomplish much. I guess this can also be known as a “slump” in the hockey world. It happens to everyone and comes in spurts and cycles. At the start of the year it happened to me and now it seems to be another little rough patch. No player is immune to these cycles but it is the way a player deals with them which impacts how long or severe they become. It is easy to lose confidence and let frustration spill throughout your body, but as a player, if you are confident in your ability and keep working, it is a battle that will always eventually be won. Speaking of battles, it’s time for my traditional Sunday lunch at Panera Bread, that’s a battle I never lose. Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich with Mac and Cheese, thanks for coming out.

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