Former St. Lawrence University forward and 100-point man Mike McKenzie is navigating through the American professional hockey ranks. He currently plays in the ECHL for the Florida Everblades.
I have asked Mike if he would like to keep a journal of his adventures, and he has agreed. These entries will vary in length and will not be written on a daily basis.
Each Sunday, I will post what Mike has written from that week. We hope this venture gives hockey and sports fans an inside look at the life of a minor pro hockey player.
These words are his own. If you would like to ask Mike questions about minor hockey life or his writing, e-mail them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com) and I will pass them along. You can also follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMcKenzie11.
Here is your first installment:
November 28, 2010.
What better place to write my first entry than the Holiday Inn in Elmira, NY. Being on our first northern road trip this year sure makes me appreciate living in Florida. Last week I was using my day off to sit by the pool and catch some rays, and this week I'm angry at myself for not packing a hat and gloves for this trip. I think the Florida heat may be softening me up. That being said, there is something refreshing about going to the rink on a cold winter's day. That is the way I grew up playing the game and it always brings me back to my younger years.
So far it has been a good weekend for me and the team. We got two good road wins in Reading, Penn., last night and Elmira this afternoon. I had two goals in each game and it felt good to contribute to the team's wins, especially on the road. Earlier this week I was a healthy scratch for one game which is never fun, but it proved to be good motivation and taught me a good lesson in my young pro career: Don't ever to get too high, but don't ever get too low. It is a cliché, but like most of them it is true, especially when it comes to pro hockey.
This weekend I ran into some familiar faces in Reading and Elmira. On Saturday, I played against former Saints Matt Generous and Jared Ross, and on Sunday, Kevin DeVergilio and Brock McBride. I had some great years with those guys at St. Lawrence and it is always great to see them and catch up. Best of luck to Genny, Rosco, Bizzle and Devo.
Time for bed. A nine-hour bus trip awaits me in the AM. Stay tuned...
November 29, 2010.
From the Elmira Holiday Inn to the Kalamazoo Holiday Inn. Warning: If you do not like staying in hotels, pro hockey is not for you. We spend a lot of nights throughout the year in hotels. There comes a point when all the hotels just kind of blend into one and sometimes you even catch yourself forgetting your room number if it's the second or third hotel room you've been assigned that trip.
Today was a pretty stereotypical minor pro hockey day — A very long bus trip with a stop or two on the highway for food. I don't mind riding the bus; it's just something that you know you have to do so you don't really even think twice about it. Most guys will have their laptops and just watch movies or TV series and of course sleep. TV series on DVD seem to be a hot commodity with the boys lately. A lot of shows are being passed around the team right now including Dexter, Nip Tuck, Sons of Anarchy and my personal favorite: Rescue Me (check it out).
Today's bus trip proved to be way more exciting than usual thanks to a great purchase made by one of the boys at Cracker Barrel after lunch. I'm not sure how to describe this but it's a mini battery-operated horse racing track where you press a button and six horses race with a random winner every time. After at least an hour of great fun and many races, we had one final event. The stakes: The first guy to have his horse win two races took home the $30 pot (that's serious dough in this league). After three pathetic showings the white horse in lane 2 finally figured it out and won me two races in a row to take home the coin. No big deal, just another day at the office.
December 2, 2010
Good evening from the state of Kentucky and, yes, another Holiday Inn. No there is no team in our league from Kentucky, but if you know your American geography you will know Kentucky is right across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. This is my first time in Kentucky, which made me think of how many states I have been to and a rough count has me at over half of them. That is the one thing about this job — you get to travel quite a bit and even though some of the places you visit are not the nicest places in the world, it is still a good experience to see some new states and cities, even if travelling is by long bus rides.
Cincinnati looks like a really cool city though. We drove right by the Bengals stadium and you could actually see right onto the field from the bus. It is quite an impressive building. We also saw the Reds ballpark. Being a huge sports fan I always find it cool seeing stuff like that, especially if it is for the first time.
On another note, it was another great day at the racetrack for me. Bobby Goepfert's horse track purchase might be the best $7 buy ever. Unfortunately the blue horse fell under a seat, may he rest in peace.
After some more dollar races, I took the big one again and walked away with 30 more bucks. It would be a huge understatement to say that some of the boys take these races quite seriously. There is a lot of yelling, swearing, disowning of horses and, of course, huge celebrations after a win. After my big win, I headed right back to the front of the bus to get out of harms way. Needless to say, none of the veterans like to see a rookie win. I just spent my hard earned dough by treating myself to chicken marsala at the hotel restaurant and, as always, free food tastes better.
My brother and dad are coming this weekend to watch my games and are also staying for the Bengals/Saints football game on Sunday. It is always awesome to see family whenever they can come. I'm especially excited to see my bro since I haven't seen him since I left home at the end of summer.
Time to go watch LeBron's return to Cleveland . More from Cinci to come.