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Minor Updates from Mike McKenzie

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Former 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
For more McKenzie journals, search "Minor Updates" in the blog archive.

Follow me on Twitter: @SLUHockey

Note: Mike McKenzie was called up to the AHL on Sunday. This is not included in this week's journals. Next week, I'm sure he will include that experience.
——

February 7, 2011

First of all, I would like to say sorry for last week’s lack of writing. It was a busy week and I just couldn’t get around to writing anything. Now that everyone has accepted my apology we can move on to this week.

Last night was the Super Bowl and we had a great team Super Bowl party. Player-turned-radio-guy Ernie Hartlieb (yes the same guy who played two games for us this year) hosted the party. He has quite an impressive place right across from the rink. There was so much food and Ernie did a great job hosting. The whole team was there so it was a really good team bonding night and whenever the whole team can get together a good time is had by all. Our equipment guy Steve-o set up some Super Bowl squares, but unfortunately none of my numbers hit. I also put some bets on the game to make things a little more interesting. I bet on the coin toss and won 10 bucks but bet the same guy the Steelers would win, so I came out even.

The most important bet of the night made by me was the one with Mike Egener. I took the Steelers and the loser had to untie the other guy’s skates after practice this morning. It was a tough pill to swallow getting down there taking his skates off for him, but I am a man of my word, so it had to be done. Can’t win ‘em all, right?

The Super Bowl is a great event and really exciting, but I must say a one-game championship just doesn’t do it for me. Football is obviously different than hockey, but there is just something about settling a winner by playing a seven-game series, and that is what makes the Stanley Cup such a special prize. Hockey is the only sport where you must play four best-of-seven series to take home the ultimate prize. The best team always wins, not sure if the same can be said for the one-game winner-take-all format. Regardless, congrats to the Packers.


February 8, 2011
Yesterday was a pretty standard day in my life — woke up, went to practice, ate lunch, went home, ate dinner, went to bed. However, it was not a standard day when it came to food.

I went to Panera Bread for lunch and PF Changs for dinner — two of my favorite places to eat in one day, love it. Other than that, yesterday was pretty uneventful. Today we flew to Cincinnati. When we got to the airport, there was some kind of miscommunication and we had no bus, so we had to wait for about an hour in the airport while our coach and some of the older guys went to rent three minivans. Ha. It was pretty funny to see a couple of the boys pulling up in a minivan to pick the rest of us up. I love it when we get to fly; it is so much easier and better than having bus. It’s much more relaxing, comfortable and gives me time to play around on my iPad.

Once we get the van issue sorted out, we went straight to the rink and practiced. I just got home from dinner with Staalzy (Jared Staal) and B Ray (Bobby Raymond). We walked to some place near our hotel, but the food was very average. It was pretty funny though because halfway through the meal we realized all three of us were wearing different very different outfits. Staalzy still had his suit on. B Ray had his full team tracksuit on and I was dressed in casual clothes. We probably looked like three of the biggest losers. The place we went allowed smoking inside, which is unheard of where I come from. I didn’t even know places still allowed that, but either way it was pretty gross and now all my clothes smell like smoke for the rest of the trip. Time to shut ‘er down for the night, though.


February 9, 2011

Not much to report today. We had a game tonight and won 4-2 with an empty netter. Big effort from Grammer (Ethan Graham) tonight with two snipes. We didn’t play all that well and probably didn't deserve to win the game, but part of being a good team, especially on the road, is finding ways to win when you aren’t at your best.

February 10, 2011

Off-day here in Cinci before we finish up the roady with games on Friday and Saturday. We practiced this afternoon and now I am just relaxing listening to some tunes in my hotel room. We have a team meal tonight at Brio, which is a sick restaurant that ranks right up there with PF’s and Carrabbas. It always reminds me of when I was in Raleigh for the Hurricanes training camp this fall. There was one right across the road from our hotel so I ate there a bunch of times.

Thinking back to the start of the year is really weird. It feels like it was so long ago and was even like a different season than the one I’m in right now. The pro hockey season sure is a long, hard grind. Looking back at the Traverse City tournament, Canes camp, Checkers camp, and Everblades camp makes me think about how much hockey I have played. You really have to love the sport to be playing this much of it. Luckily, I do.

February 11, 2011

Bad loss for us tonight. Game was close until the third and we just fell apart.

My dad made the trip to Cinci and we went to McCormick and Schmicks after the game. I had the best-tasting steak I have ever eaten and the old man even picked up the bill.

Tonight was the Cyclones “Pink at the Rink” night. I think basically every team in every league does this now and it is for a great cause. One complaint I have is the decision to paint the ice pink for the game. The pink jerseys and all that are one thing, but anytime you actually mess with the playing surface it is a different story. Luckily the ice wasn’t too dark so it wasn’t too bad, but I have heard stories about teams painting it too dark and it messing with the game a bit. It’s a great cause, just leave the ice alone please. That is my rant for the night.

I’d like to give a quick shout out to my boys at SLU who beat No. 2 in the nation Yale last night. Don’t feel bad Yale, you are not the first nor last highly ranked team to come into Appleton Arena and walk away empty handed and frustrated. Good job boys, keep it going.

February 12, 2011

Just got back from pre-game meal and an optional game-day skate. Only four or five guys skated today. I like to get out there even if it is only for 15 minutes to handle the puck and do some shooting. Big rubber match tonight will be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful road trip.
I would like to take a couple seconds to talk about the role of the emergency back-up goaltender in the ECHL. If a goalie ever gets hurt or called up for a short time, instead of having to sign a new goalie for that period of time, the league allows teams to pick up an emergency back-up goaltender who technically isn’t on the roster. We have our own guy for when we are at home and need a guy, but when we are not using him and other visiting teams need him they are allowed. So around two weeks ago when one of our goalies was called up, we had our guy around, and then the very next week when Greenville came to town and needed a guy, they used our guy. In one week he was backing up for us and the next week he was backing up against us. It’s kind of a weird concept. We have had three or four emergency back-ups while on the road over the course of the year and this trip our guy comes straight from work to practice or game-day skates. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and I think it is great, but it was pretty funny when he walked in the first day 30 minutes before practice with his construction boots and vest on.
Now you have all been enlightened on the role of the emergency back-up goaltender and that is two minutes of your life you will never get back.
Time for my nap. Next entries will be from a much warmer place. Later.

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