Former Wenatchee Wild captain Adam McKenzie has enjoyed his fair share of success over the last two seasons with the Air Force Falcons. He was an Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) All-Rookie Team selection in 2011 and helped the Falcons qualify for the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons.
Now the former North American Hockey League (NAHL) left-handed defenseman is in the midst of perhaps his greatest hockey opportunity to date. McKenzie will participate in the Washington Capitals’ annual development camp, which began this morning and runs through Saturday.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” McKenzie said. “I’m really excited to be here. It’s an opportunity to show what I can do. It’s an NHL camp, and it’s a step toward reaching my dream.”
Among the camp’s 46 participants are players drafted by the team, including 2012 first-round selections Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson, and free agents. The camp is being held at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., and will consist of on- and off-ice workouts as well as scrimmages.
“We’re excited for Adam,” said Wild assistant coach Chris Clark. “He has had a great start to his career at Air Force, and we’re glad to see that he was rewarded with an invitation to the Capitals development camp.”
McKenzie was a force on the blue line for the Wild for two seasons (2008-10). He recorded 28 points (4G, 24A) and was plus-13 in the Wild’s inaugural season, then went on to add three assists during the 2009 playoffs that ended with the Wild falling in the Robertson Cup championship game. He also received the NAHL’s Academic Achievement Award in 2009.
McKenzie was even better in his second season with the Wild in 2009-10. He was plus-19 in the regular season and scored nine goals and 22 assists (31 points). He was named to the All-West Division Team and helped the Wild get back to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament with a plus-11, 7-assist effort in the postseason. He went on to be named to the Robertson Cup All-Tournament Team.
It was his development and experiences with the Wild that played a pivotal role in McKenzie making an easy transition to the Division I level, said Air Force head coach Frank Serratore.
“Adam was a good player when he left Wenatchee,” Serratore said. “He was a mature player to start with and we anticipated that he would be able to make a seamless transition into a Division I hockey player, and he did.”
As a freshman, McKenzie played in all 38 of Air Force’s games. He notched 19 points (5G, 14A) with a plus-8 rating on a Falcons team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament. McKenzie was the No. 2 scoring freshman on the team and the top-scoring freshman in the AHA. Later, he was named to the AHA’s all-rookie team.
A native of Petaluma, Calif., McKenzie and the Falcons returned to the NCAA Tournament this past season, but suffered a 2-0 loss in the Northeast Regional Semifinals to Boston College, which went on to win the national title. McKenzie was plus-7 last season and tallied 18 points (2G, 16A) in 39 games.
NHL development camps, which have increased in number and popularity over the years, have become known as an ulterior pathway for undrafted players to reach hockey’s highest level.
“It will be a terrific hockey experience for Adam, and it will give him an opportunity to see where he sits on the food chain among other prospects,” Serratore said. “We’re happy for Adam. It’s good for him, good for [Air Force] and Wenatchee.”