Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Texas Stars Curtis McKenzie Named to AHL All-Rookie Team

Curtis McKenzie (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The American Hockey League announced today that Texas Stars forward Curtis McKenzie has been named to the league's All-Rookie Team. He becomes the first Texas Star to ever be named to the team and only the second post-season award winner in team history.

McKenzie has been a fixture on the top line and first power play unit all season, amassing 22 goals and 38 assists for 60 total points. Nine of those goals have come of the power play. His assists and points numbers are all new Texas Stars rookie records, eclipsing the 31 assists and 52 points from Travis Morin in his rookie season in 2009-10. Matt Fraser still owns the rookie goals record with 37.

It's only fitting as Morin was a key part of McKenzie's success this season. The rookie was on a line with Morin and Colton Sceviour for most of the season. Between the three of them, they held the titles for top scorer, top goal scorer, and top-scoring rookie for most of the season. Only now has Sceviour been passed for top goal scorer by Zach Boychuk.

The role that McKenzie found himself in to start the season was not exactly what was expected of him coming out of college. He had always played second-fiddle at Miami University to big scoring threats like Reilly Smith or Andy Miele. Once Willie Desjardins got a hold of him, he used McKenzie's nose for the net and physical play to open space for the two of the best players in the league this year.

Of course, as the season progressed, there were some concerns that McKenzie's success was only thanks to his combination with Morin and Sceviour. He proved that wasn't the case in March as Morin and Sceviour were called up to Dallas and he was still a solid player. The goals may not have been there, but he was doing all the right things to have success.

The All-Rookie team is a big honor for the young BC native. He, as many rookies, still will want to work on his team defense to make himself a big part of what Dallas is doing. However, he was a sixth round pick and, if you look at history, most of those don't pan out at all. If McKenzie can continue this production into next year for Texas, it is not too far-fetched to contemplate a future in Dallas where McKenzie finds himself on the wing of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin providing the same grit and scoring prowess as he did in the AHL for Morin and Sceviour.

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 named to the 2013-14 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by coaches, players and media in each of the league's 30 member cities.

McKenzie, 23, is the top-scoring rookie in the AHL, having notched 22 goals and 38 assists for 60 points in 70 games for the league-leading Stars. The CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month for December has registered 15 multiple-point games, and he tied a Texas franchise record with four assists in one contest on Jan. 17 at Charlotte. McKenzie also has 32 power-play points on the year - most among AHL rookies - helping the Stars to the top-ranked unit in the league. A native of Golden, B.C., McKenzie was drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2009 and played four seasons at Miami University.

2013-14 AHL All-Rookie Team
Goaltender - Joni Ortio, Abbotsford Heat (34gp, 24-8-0, 2.37gaa, .924vs%, 2so)
Defenseman - Brenden Kichton, St. John's IceCaps (71gp, 10+35=45pts., +5, 3 GWG)
Defenseman - Ryan Sproul, Grand Rapids Griffins (70gp, 10+21=31pts., 4 PPG, 2 GWG)
Forward - Curtis McKenzie, Texas Stars (70gp, 22+38=60pts., 9 PPG, 4 GWG)
Forward - Teemu Pulkkinen, Grand Rapids Griffins (67gp, 30+25=55pts., +18, 9 PPG, 2 GWG)
Forward - Ryan Strome, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (37gp, 13+36=49pts., +16, 21 PP pts.)

Each player will receive a custom-designed crystal award in recognition of his selection to the 2013-14 AHL All-Rookie Team. This is the second time in franchise history that a Texas Stars player has received a year-end AHL award. The first came last season when left wing Matt Fraser was selected to the 2012-13 AHL Second All-Star Team.

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