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MacKenzie Entwistle playing with pair of future Central Division foes

Entwistle is providing skill, scoring, physicality and reliability as Guelph’s second-line center.

Tony Saxon/Guelph Today

As the Blackhawks attempt to ward off their Central Division foes in a quest for a playoff berth, prospect MacKenzie Entwistle is riding with a couple potential opponents on the Guelph Storm’s second line.

Entwsitle began the week playing with a pair of fellow Central Division prospects, namely Alexey Toropchecnko (fourth-round pick by the Blues in 2017) and Liam Hawel (fourth-round pick by the Stars in 2017).

In wins over the Erie Otters and Flint Firebirds, Entwistle was held without a point, but he did record five shots and went 16 for 30 in the faceoff circle, good for a 53.3 win percentage. The Storm won those games by a combined score of 12-2, but it was top line talents like Isaac Ratcliffe and Nick Suzuki that stole the show.

It was with those guys that Entwistle had been playing early his Storm tenure, but he’s assumed second-line center duties with Canadiens prospect Cam Hills on the shelf due to injury.

The fact head coach George Burnett is deploying Entiwstle as the second-line center instead of putting him on the top line with Suzuki and Ratcliffe tells us a couple of things. For one, Entwistle is able to anchor a line of his own, helping to drive possession and generate offense while flanked by a couple of pretty talented wingers. Additionally, Entwistle’s defensive responsibility is best exemplified down the middle, and he can therefore help lock things down in his own zone and be trusted to win a faceoff in dangerous spots.

Entwistle did hit the back of the net in a massive 6-3 win over the London Knights on Tuesday. He also recorded four shots on goal and went 10 for 24 in the faceoff circle (41.6 percent success rate).

Guelph played Erie again Wednesday, and while Entwistle didn’t record a point, he did fire three shots on goal, went 12 for 19 (63 percent) in faceoffs, and even dropped the gloves and earned a five-minute fighting major.

Altogether, Entwistle has now registered seven goals and eight assists in 20 games with the Storm, firing 59 shots on goal and winning 100 of 211 faceoffs (47.4 percent). He’s fallen off the point-per-game pace he had going for a bit after the trade, but again, his line assignment has changed and he’s taken on other responsibilities like killing penalties.

If you include his games earlier this season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, his season totals stand at 22 goals and 20 assists in 49 OHL games, with 152 shots on goal and 296 faceoff wins in 615 attempts (48.1 percent).

Guelph remains entrenched in the fourth spot in the OHL’s Western Conference, which — as has been mentioned before — would put them on track to face powerhouse London in the second round of the playoffs in the likely event both advance.

Based on the recent result in favor of Guelph in London (7-3 win), this Storm club is building some confidence.

Up next:

Friday, March 1 vs. Windsor Spitfires
Sunday, March 3 @ Kitchener Rangers