Forward Curtis McKenzie has been a steady performer during his first season with the Wolves, ranking fourth among the team’s active skaters with 38 points on 11 goals and 27 assists.
McKenzie has come on strong during the team’s recent surge as he just wrapped up an eight-game point streak – tying his career-best – with 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) from Feb. 9-24.
The 28-year-old spent his previous five seasons in the Dallas Stars organization, bookending his career in Texas by trips to the Calder Cup Final. The AHL Rookie of the Year in 2013-14, McKenzie helped Texas to the 2014 championship before captaining the Stars to the 2018 Final a season ago.
We caught up with McKenzie before the team hopped Thursday’s flight to Texas to talk about why the Wolves are playing so well and how he feels about visiting his old stomping grounds.
Q: The team is headed to Texas for a pair of games this weekend. What is it going to be like going back?
A: I’m excited to go back. It’s always a little more fun getting to play the guys I am buddies with. Going back to Texas where I got to call home for four years and was fortunate enough to go on some playoff runs, it just makes it that much more exciting to go back.
Q: What was it like seeing all those guys this past week at Allstate, especially getting two wins against them?
A: We are having success against Texas right now, so I think that’s probably why it’s so enjoyable for myself. It’s something that we want to continue to do — doesn’t matter who we’re playing — but I think the wins against Texas are a little extra special.
Q: You’re taking a five-game winning streak out on the road, but what got you to this point?
A: I think we’re playing well as a team. I think we’re buying in to (head coach Rocky Thompson‘s) system. Rocky’s done a great job of identifying little gaps in our game and where to improve. Credit to the guys, we haven’t had a lot of practice time lately and guys are finding a way to implement it into their game. We’re doing that, that’s helped a lot. And our goaltending has been great, which will give you a shot in any game.
Q: Individually, you had an eight-game point streak going through February. What’s been clicking with your linemates?
A: I think just finding my spot with (T.J.) Tynan and (Keegan) Kolesar. I think Kolesar does such a great job creating room for his linemates and Tynan is so skilled…when you’re playing with guys like that, you seem to have the puck quite a bit and you’re going to get a lot more opportunities throughout the game. We’ve been in positions where we’ve had success and it’s been fun.”