HockeyProspect.com Intern, Angela Salerno, spoke to Barrie Colts goaltender and NHL Draft prospect, MacKenzie Blackwood, recently and asked him about his time leading up to the OHL, about his game and if he thinks about the upcoming 2015 NHL Draft.
How was the transition from Jr. B to the OHL for you?
It was pretty good, I mean obviously its a little quicker, a little faster, everything happens a little quicker, but I mean you just have to work hard. It went pretty smoothly I think.
How was your season last year with Barrie?
It started off kinda weird, we had 3 goalies and I was the 3rd goalie. We battled the crease and then I got a chance and I just went with it. So last season had ups and downs, so good and bad, good times, bad times, but a really good first year in the league.
From Minor Midget to the OHL you have lived in three different cities, playing for three different teams in three years, how has this experience been for you? (Thunder Bay, Elmira and Barrie)
It’s been good, it helps you become more mature just living away from home. You gotta take care of yourself and it just teaches you how to become a pro.
Do you have a favourite goalie you try and model yourself after?
I like Carey Price, I like Pekka Rinne, and I like Mike Smith. All 3 of those guys I like to take bits and pieces from their games and try to use all the stuff that they do in their games to make myself better.
Is there a player in the OHL who you hate to play against?
Yeah the other day we played against McDavid… ha, yeah that was pretty difficult. He’s pretty tough (laughs).
How would you describe yourself as a goalie?
Pretty agile, I can move around pretty quick and cover a lot of net. Pretty quick latterly.
Do you feel having a late birthday for the draft gives you an advantage over the other players?
It probably helps, it gives the scouts more time to get a look at you. I say it wouldn’t hurt. Yeah, it probably helps me out for the draft a little bit actually.
Some goalies have some pretty crazy pre game rituals, do you have any?
I wouldn’t say any crazy pre game rituals. I put my gear on the same way every time. But other then that, I wouldn’t say anything too weird.
How do you react when something doesn’t go your way in a game such as a bad goal scored against you?
I like to say I can let it go and keep moving on. I don’t think that one bad goal affects your whole game. You can put it behind you and still win a game. I like to just forget about it and try to use it as fuel to play better.
What are you most proud of so far in your hockey career?
I’d have to say how far I’ve come in the amount of time I’ve been a goalie. I started pretty late at 12, and every year I’ve moved up a level. So probably my biggest accomplishment is how far I’ve gone in such a short amount of time.
As you mentioned, you started pretty late as a goalie, what made you want to become a goalie at that age?
I was playing on a team with a bunch of my buddies, and we had a goalie and I think, if I recall correctly, he quit or he got hurt, I can’t remember. Either way, I just took over for them for the rest of the year and I really enjoyed it. So the next year I just said I’ll be a goalie, and I never looked back from there.
You’re now being regarded as one of the top ranked goalies in this draft, does this motivate you?
Yeah it gives you motivation and it gives you a little bit of nerves and pressure, because once you hear that, you wanna keep that and build and become better. So it motivates you and I guess it puts a little bit of fire under your butt (laughs)
Are you nervous about the upcoming NHL draft?
Yes and no, I’m nervous when I think about it, but I try not to think about it too much during the season. I feel that wouldn’t help your game too much. So yes and no (laughs)
What makes you different than other goalies in this draft?
I’d have to say that fact that I’m pretty tall, I’m a big goalie but I move like I’m small, if that makes sense. Normally when you have a big goalie, he’s a little bit bulky, doesn’t move around the net very well. I like to think that I’m pretty agile and pretty solid mentally for the game.