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Mackenzie Entwistle’s strong 2-way play key to Guelph Storm’s success

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The Blackhawks prospect is named the Best Defensive Forward in OHL’s Western Conference and remains big part of Guelph’s winning formula.

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It’s becoming very difficult to believe Mackenzie Entwistle won’t succeed at the NHL level, if there was ever really much doubt.

The Blackhawks prospect just seems to have “it” both on and off the ice.

Best defensive forward

For starters, he’s earned the respect of Ontario Hockey League coaches, earning a nod that would make Jonathan Toews quite pleased. Before the playoffs started, the OHL announced the results of the Eastern and Western Conference Coaches Polls for the regular season. While Entwistle began the season in the East as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs, he made enough of an impression on the coaches in the West to be named Best Defensive Forward.

Here’s how the voting broke down:

1. MacKenzie Entwistle, Guelph Storm (24)
2. Damien Giroux, Saginaw Spirit (20)
3. Ryan McGregor, Sarnia Sting (17)

By now, it’s no secret Entwistle’s two-way play is exceptional, and it’s cool to see him win this vote even after taking a more offensive role on Guelph’s top line.

Storm rolling in postseason

With those well-deserved accolades in the books, the Storm got off to a roaring start in the postseason, beating the Kitchener Rangers by a combined score of 17-5 to build a 3-0 series lead.

Here’s how has Entwistle fared in those three contests playing alongside Isaac Ratcliffe and Nick Suzuki.

Game 1

Empty-net goal, three shots, 1 for 1 in the faceoff circle.

Game 2

Secondary assist, two shots, 0 for 1 in the faceoff circle.

Entwistle’s helper was indeed secondary in nature, but he helped create the opportunity through some hard work in the corner, as you can see at the beginning of the highlight clip.

Score that one as Suzuki from Ratcliffe and Entwistle, but with the dirty work having been done by No. 10.

Game 3

Secondary assist (power play), two shots, 3 for 5 in the faceoff circle.

Add it all up, and Entwistle has been good for one goal, two secondary assists and seven shots through three playoff games. He’s not exactly lighting the world on fire with those stats, but he’s playing an important role on the top line in terms of puck protection and possession. Entwistle, Ratcliffe and Suzuki are proficient at cycling the puck, and that’s been key to their success over the Rangers so far.

“It’s important for us to continue to have (puck possession),” Storm coach George Burnett told Tony Saxon of Guelph Today. “We try and put more pressure on their young defense, but we also keep the puck out of their very talented skilled forwards.”

So far, it’s very much working.

Honorable ‘Good Dude’ mention

On top of all the strong play, it turns out Entwistle is very solid off the ice as well, which we already kind of knew.

Up next:

Thursday, March 28: Game 4 @ Kitchener Rangers (available on Sportsnet360 in Canada)