TISDALE — The nine games Mackenzie Carson suited up last season for the Tisdale Trojans as an affiliated player benefited him in various ways.
“I think being an AP [advanced placement] last year helped lots,” said the 16-year-old, who played for the North East midget AA squad last season. “I got to see what this team and organization was about and I loved every bit of it, which made me want to come back this year. Playing with North East last year helped with my development for sure, but it was good to see what this league was like and I knew what I had to do to be able to play at this level.”
Carson has had a solid rookie season on the Trojans team in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
Tisdale head coach Darrell Mann said the forward from Carrot River “has been unbelievable in the new year.”
Mann said that Carson doesn’t realize how good he could be. “I think he has gained some confidence and sees that he belongs … I think he realizes, ‘I can play in this league and be a big factor.”
Carson has recorded 12 points, including five goals, in his last 10 games. On the season, he has seven goals and 17 points in 41 games.
“I’ve just been working hard and trying to do what the coaches have been telling me and just needed to slow things down a bit and stay focused and I guess it’s just been clicking,” Carson said. “I get helped out by my linemates – whether they’re setting me up or they’re putting it in.”
Mann praised the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder as being “a big, strong kid … He plays a physical game.” As well Mann said, “He is a really good forechecker. He is hard on puck and usually first to pucks.”
Carson has been seeing time on a line with Kalen Ukrainetz and Jayden Wiens, whose brother David is also a Trojan. The Wiens boys and Carson all hail from Carrot River. Carson said he grew up playing with or against the Wiens when Carrot River had two teams. Carson and Jayden Wiens have had some intense games on an outdoor rink over the years and were linemates in bantam AA with North East.
“Just coming from a hockey family and a small town, everyone’s so close,” he said. “Playing minor hockey there as a kid was awesome and I had some great coaches throughout my career and received lots of support from everyone.”
Carson has continued to feel supported since he moved to Tisdale. He stayed with Cole and Stacy Simpson a bit last season when he was an AP and they are billeting this SMAAAHL campaign.
“They are just great people and like a second family to me. Their kids, Kinley and Rori, are pretty adorable too and, I mean, I don’t mind playing with Barbies or playing house,” Carson joked.
When asked what the best part of playing for the Trojans is, Carson said simply – everything.
“Just a great organization to be a part of and everyone who is involved is awesome,” he said. “Everyone gets along and has a good time together. The fans are the best in the league by far. Just everything about it makes it the best and being a part of a winning team is fun too, because what’s more fun than winning?