Brett McKenzie returned to familiar territory on Wednesday. However, it was territory he was hoping was a thing of the past.
The 20-year-old Vars, Ontario product was released by the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League, on Tuesday.
“I kind of figured out when I saw the guys sent down from the Canucks and basically just pushed me down,” said a disappointed McKenzie who led the team in scoring with 29 goals and 67 points last year.
“I have blocked that out and I am playing here now, I mean it was my goal to make the AHL but of course there are other guys that are higher ranked than I am that need those spots so it was just the luck of the draw and I got pushed down.”
As he blocks out the disappointment of being returned to junior, McKenzie arrives back with a sense of optimism that has come with a 3-0-1 start by the Troops.
“I mean the group seems good, they are unbeaten (in regulation) which is a positive,” he said before practice Wednesday.
“I am just going to try and come in here with a positive attitude and just help them out.”
Stan Butler, the Battalion head coach, would not comment on where McKenzie will fit in the lineup tonight when the Troops travel to Barrie to take on the Colts. Does he keep the skilled forward at centre or move him on the wing with Coe and McMaster? Regardless who he plays with, rest assured he will be a key part of an improved Battalion offence moving forward.
“Brett was our top scorer on our team last year and our best forward, and we need him to come in, I think we have a little bit more depth for him to play with guys and we need him to come in and be a good player for us,” said Butler.
The Battalion face a Colts team that will be looking for redemption. The Troops dumped the Colts in the home opener 5-2 back on September 22nd. That regulation loss is the only one for the young Colts team which sits at 3-1-0-1 on the season.
"They are a very good offensive team, they’re much improved. You look at our division right now, they’re three and one, Niagara’s three and one, everybody is off to a pretty good start, and we’ve got to be ready for them," stated Butler.
Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Barrie Molson Centre. You can watch the game on YOUR TV on Cable 700 or listen to it live on the radio at Country 600 CKAT.