TISDALE — The Tisdale Trojans are looking for forward Pavel McKenzie to light things up for them in various ways this season.
“He loves scoring goals, he has a smile that lights up the room, and a great personality,” Tisdale head coach Dennis Kubat said.
A 16-year-old from Cumberland House, the 5-foot-11, 158-pound McKenzie has lit the lamp once so far in five games this season for his Saskatchewan Male U18 AAA Hockey League squad. The Trojans know there are many more points to come.
“Pavel’s offensive upside is extraordinary,” Kubat said. “He has the ability to make plays, knows how to score. He has a very high ceiling, now he has to take ownership on his development as he will see a lot of success.”
Tisdale assistant coach Gavin Brandl coached McKenzie during the 2019-20 season with the North East U15 AA Wolfpack. McKenzie played two seasons for the Wolfpack and a campaign for the U18 AA North East team.
“The biggest development that I have seen for Pav has just been in the form of confidence and assertiveness,” Brandl said. “He has so much skill and creativity – as he continues to learn to be assertive with his toolbox, he has the ability to be downright dominant.”
McKenzie developed his love for hockey while skating in his backyard with his dad and brother. As his game developed, he hit the road to play for teams in such places as Carrot River, Melfort, Nipawin, and Tisdale.
“His parents are some of the most dedicated you will ever meet,” Brandl said of McKenzie’s folks. “He traveled to and from Cumberland House for every practice and function and even though now Pav is living with his billet [Pat Bladen] in Tisdale they still come to every game home and away.”
The aspect of playing for the Trojans that McKenzie has enjoyed the most is his teammates. They are also getting to know his smile and personality.
“Pav is a great kid. He describes himself as shy at first but once he gets comfortable, he is pretty funny. That's him to a ‘T,’” Brandl said. “And I think that is what we will see with his play as well – as he gets comfortable with the level of competition, his abilities will continue to be more visible. The sky is absolutely the limit for him if that is the case.”
Martin to Play in WHL Cup
Trojans defenceman Simon Martin has been named to Hockey Saskatchewan’s Male U16 team for the WHL Cup. The event runs Oct. 20-24 in Rd Deer. It features the top 2006-born players in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These players are eligible for the 2021 Western Hockey League Prospects Draft, which will be held online on Dec. 9.
A Lumsden product, Martin has an assist through five games.
The last time the WHL Cup was played, in 2019, then Trojans Kylynn Olafson and Carter Briltz helped Team Saskatchewan top Team Manitoba, 4-2, in the finals to claim gold. Their Trojans teammate Cole Tanchuk had been chosen for the team but did not play due to injury.
The Trojans last week
Saturday, Oct. 9 in Regina
Regina 5, Tisdale 0
Pat Canadians Scorers: Ryan Zaremba (2), Ben Riche, Noel Englot, Dayce Derkatch
Goalies: Cody Wilson, Tisdale, 31 saves on 36 shots; Ewan Soutar, Regina, 16 on 16
Notes: Four of Regina’s five goals were scored on the powerplay. The Pat Canadians were 4-for-8 with the man advantage while Tisdale was 0-for-7. The Trojans were outshot 36-15. Defenceman Simon Martin was named the away star. Head coach Dennis Kubat said that his players need to get out of their comfort zone, play with confidence, and make plays. “At the end of the day we want to win, but it is going to be a process,” Kubat said. “We have to continue to control the things we can control - work ethic, compete level, playing with confidence, playing with structure …”
The 1-4 Trojans play the Moose Jaw Warriors on the road on Friday. It will be the Tisdale team’s fourth straight game on the road. The next home game at the Tisdale RECplex will be Oct. 23 when the Estevan Bears visit.