Monday, April 14, 2014

Texas Star Curtis McKenzie Named AHL Rookie of the Year

Curtis McKenzie (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The AHL announced today that Curtis McKenzie has been named the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award winner, awarded to the league's top rookie. McKenzie stormed the league with a 26 goal, 38 assist campaign that isn't over yet. He has resided in the top ten of scoring for most of the season despite his rookie status and has anchored the wing of the league's top power play and top line all year.

"That wasn't the role I thought I was going to play, certainly not to this extent," McKenzie said this weekend after scoring his first professional hat trick in San Antonio. "I had confidence in myself that I could come in and be an impact player for the team, but I definitely didn't think about anything like All-Rookie teams or anything like that coming into this year."

After a four year college career where he scored a total of 80 points in 158 games, McKenzie has 64 points in just 73 AHL games this season.

McKenzie deflected praise to his linemates, also fellow All-Stars, "A lot of it was the opportunity playing with Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour and on the first power play unit. We had a lot of success there. That gave me confidence in adjusting to this level."

(Credit: Darren Abate/AHL)
The sixth-round pick played just five games last season on an amateur tryout. He picked up an assist but was more noted for his fights. That led many to believe that would continue to be his role in the 2013-14 season. Coach Desjardins is frank in admitting he didn't know that McKenzie would turn into this sort of player when given the opportunity.

"It's not the kind of player I expected him to be when we started the year," said Desjardins. "We knew we'd get a good, hardworking player, maybe a guy who would grind a little and finish some checks for Morin and Sceviour. He's proved to have more skill than we thought he would early, and it's great for him. He's battled hard."

This marks the first individual end of season award for the Texas Stars franchise. McKenzie is one of several rookie of the month winners for Texas. McKenzie won the award in December 2013. Previous Texas winners include Reilly Smith and Jamie Oleksiak last season.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that left wing Curtis McKenzie has been voted the winner of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding rookie for the 2013-14 season. The award is voted on by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league's 30 member cities.

McKenzie, a 2009 draft pick by the Dallas Stars, has recorded 26 goals and 38 assists for 64 points in 73 games for the league-leading Stars this season. McKenzie is currently tied for ninth overall in league scoring, and among AHL rookies he ranks first in points, assists, power-play points (33) and power-play assists (23); second in shots on goal (210) and tied for third in power-play goals (10). A 23-year-old native of Golden, B.C., McKenzie was the CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month for December, and was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team last week. He made his pro debut with Texas at the end of the 2012-13 season following four seasons at Miami University.

Here is a link to a highlight package of McKenzie from this season, courtesy of SendtoNews.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1947, honors the late Dudley (Red) Garrett, a promising young player who lost his life during World War II while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. Garrett split his only pro season, 1942-43, between the AHL's Providence Reds and the NHL's New York Rangers.

Previous winners of the Garrett Award include Terry Sawchuk (1949), Wally Hergesheimer (1951), Jimmy Anderson (1955), Bill Sweeney (1958), Roger Crozier (1964), Gerry Desjardins (1968), Rick Middleton (1974), Darryl Sutter (1980), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Steve Thomas (1985), Ron Hextall (1986), Brett Hull (1987), Felix Potvin (1992), Darcy Tucker (1996), Daniel Briere (1998), Rene Bourque (2005), Teddy Purcell (2008), Nathan Gerbe (2009), Tyler Ennis (2010), Luke Adam (2011), Cory Conacher (2012) and Tyler Toffoli (2013).

This is the first time in franchise history that a Texas Stars player has been selected as the AHL's Rookie of the Year and the fifth time a Texas Stars player has received a year-end AHL award. All previous selections have been for the AHL All-Star or All-Rookie teams. The first came last season when left wing Matt Fraser was selected to the 2012-13 AHL Second All-Star Team. Last week, McKenzie was selected to the 2013-14 AHL All-Rookie Team and Travis Morin and Colton Sceivour were both named to the 2013-14 AHL First All-Star Team.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2013-14 regular season ends on Saturday, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league's coveted championship trophy when the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.

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