MacKenzie Entwistle is back and showing off his versatility.
The Guelph Storm forward, who recently missed three games with a lower-body injury, made his return to the lineup for a stretch of three games in three days this past weekend.
Entwistle down the middle
As was written in this space last week, Storm coach and general manager George Burnett was eager to get his new-look top line of Entwistle, Nick Suzuki and Isaac Ratcliffe back together upon the former’s return. Burnett did indeed reunite the trio for a game on Feb. 8 at home against Sarina, slotting Entwistle down the middle, but (cue Twitter “and then what happened?” voice) two things forced some changes during the next two games.
For one thing, Guelph was embarrassed on home ice by a score of 6-2. What’s worse, center Cam Hillis — a 2018 third-round pick by the Canadiens — suffered a broken clavicle, sidelining him until around the playoffs.
For Saturday’s game in Sarnia, Burnett kept Entwistle with Suzuki and Ratcliffe, and Guelph did win 4-1, although Entwistle was held without a point for the second straight game.
Despite the positive result, Burnett shuffled things up for Sunday’s game back at home against the Kingston Frontenacs, perhaps in an attempt to spread out the offense with Hillis on the shelf. Entwistle remained at center with Suzuki to his right, but they were joined on the so-called second line by Alexey Toropchenko, a 2017 fourth-round pick by the Blues.
Guelph pummeled Kingston 9-0, with Entwistle chipping in the eighth goal of the game on a breakaway, hitting the 20-goal mark for the season.
That highlight can be seen here, for those interested.
Numbers so far
For the weekend, then, Entwistle recorded the one goal, seven shots, and went 17 of 36 in the face-off circle.
In 42 games split between the Hamilton Bulldogs and Guelph this season, he’s up to 20 goals and 20 assists, and he remains a point-per-game player for the Storm with five goals and eight assists in 13 games since the trade.
But don’t forget — Entwistle hasn’t traditionally been known as a flashy offensive forward. His great value lies in the fact he can be confidently deployed at any forward position while also displaying maturity in being shuffled around the lineup to fulfill different roles.
He’s also marked by the responsibility he demonstrates at both ends of the ice, strong efforts on each shift, and the leadership ability that earned him the captain’s “C” back in Hamilton.
Whatever position he plays, Entwistle feels Guelph is definitely in position to push for an OHL championship.
“We have a pretty special team in the locker room here and that’s what I’m most excited for,” he told Stephanie Coratti at Guelphstorm.com. “Just to see what happens, to grow, make new friends, and to keep pushing for that second championship, and I think we have the team to do it this year.”
At present, Guelph remains fourth in the Western Conference, meaning the Storm would be in line to face the Owen Sound Attack in the opening round of the playoffs, and the top-seeded London Knights in round two if both advance.
Wednesday, Feb. 13 @ London Knights
Friday, Feb. 15 vs. Kitchener Rangers
Monday, Feb. 18 vs. Flint Firebirds