Hitmen vet makes most of bigger role

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

It's just 18 games into the regular season and Matt Mackenzie has already posted career-best numbers.

The Calgary Hitmen defenceman has clearly made the most of his increased opportunity.

"With three of our top-four defenceman gone, there's been more ice time for me to slide in there and be counted on," said Mackenzie, whose Hitmen host the Edmonton Oil Kings tomorrow (7 p.m. at the Dome).

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has a goal and 15 points so far, eclipsing his previous best by three points.

He and fellow veteran Michael Stone are often out on the ice on powerplays, but they're usually split up at regular strength to even out the defensive pairings.

Mackenzie said he's a bit more cautious when he finds himself out with one of the team's younger blueliners.

"When you're out there with Stone, you know he's going to be there," he said.

"Our young guys can all handle themselves, but you have to read the situation carefully when you (join the rush)."

After a lacklustre 1-2 western road trip, Mackenzie said the Hitmen are eager to get back on track on home ice.

"It was disappointing," he said. "But we have some games at home and we're looking to rebound."

SCOTT.FISHER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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