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MacKenzie Entwistle described as ‘ultimate teammate’

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The Blackhawks prospect draws comparisons to Anze Kopitar.

Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

MacKenzie Entwistle has provided his junior team with some exceptional secondary scoring in recent games.

The Guelph Storm played two games since I last wrote about Entwistle, and the Blackhawks forward prospect had himself a nice weekend on the score sheet.

What Entwistle has been up to

Guelph beat the Windsor Spitfires 11-4 on March 1, and followed that up with an 8-4 win over the Kitchener Rangers, their closest geographic rival. Entwistle amassed five points in those two games, with two goals and two assists coming in the win over Windsor.

This scoring effort is exemplary of Entwistle’s work ethic shift in and shift out.

As mentioned last week, Entwistle has found a home centering the Storm’s second line, playing with a pair of fellow Central Division prospects in Alexey Toropchecnko (fourth-round pick by the Blues in 2017) and Liam Hawel (fourth-round pick by the Stars in 2017).

The team’s offense had largely been carried by the new-look top line of Isaac Ratcliffe, Nick Suzuki and Nate Schnarr, so the outburst from the second line was good to see. If this team is going to be successful in the postseason, depth scoring will be key, and Entwistle’s ability to draw primary assists on goals scored by each of his linemates was certainly encouraging.

Entwistle also recorded nine shots in those two games, and went 22 for 44 in the faceoff circle for an even 50-percent success rate.

In 22 games with Guelph, Entwistle is now up to nine goals and 11 assists for a 0.91 points-per game average. That puts him up to 47 points this OHL season, with 24 goals and 23 assists dating back to his time with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Impressively, 40 of those 47 points are primary in nature, meaning only seven of his 23 assists were secondary helpers.

A different perspective

To cap this week’s column, I reached out to Reed Duthie to offer some insight into Entwistle, both on and off the ice. Reed is the TV Voice of the Hamilton Bulldogs, and therefore had a close view of Entwistle’s first three junior seasons, including last year’s OHL championship win.

Here’s what Reed had to say:

Mackenzie Entwistle is the ultimate teammate; from getting to see him on the ice and get to know him off the ice, he can walk into any room and both command respect while being one of the most likeable people there.

On the ice Mackenzie is very advanced in his 200-foot game. He reads the play at a high end professional level and has gained an understanding of how to best leverage his size to interrupt plays and turn defense to offense quickly. As dangerous a shooter as he is a set up man, his puck control skills have improved year over year to the point where it is very difficult to take possession away from him.

On the power play, Mackenzie is more than willing to battle stationed in front of the net or off the post to best use his control, size and hand eye coordination in tight, highly contested space.

On the penalty kill, Mackenzie is invaluable, able to read and breakdown opposition set ups quickly. Utilizes a strong stick and understanding of how to limit opposition passing lanes and take away chances. Also a major threat for offense short handed.

Only points of improvement will be translating his offensive game from the junior level to the pros as his defensive side is ready for pro hockey now.

Comparable: If Mackenzie Entwistle can translate his offensive game to the professional level, his 200ft game combined with his size will remind many of Anze Kopitar. Able to play in all situations, understanding how to use the big frame to shield and protect as well as being a great skater for his size.

If Entwistle can come even close to becoming a player of Kopitar’s ilk, the Blackhawks and their fans will be ecstatic. Keep in kind Entwistle appeared in 192 regular-season games and 28 playoff games with the Bulldogs, so Reed certainly had time to take notes.

Up next:

Friday, March 8 vs. Saginaw Spirit
Saturday, March 9 @ Owen Sound Attack
Sunday, March 10 vs. Kitchener Rangers
Wednesday, March 13 vs. London Knights

Statistical information courtesy: http://prospect-stats.com/OHL/2018-19/skaters