PORT HOOD: On June 9, Cape Breton West Islander goalie Kenzie MacPhail was drafted by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the sixth round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League entry draft. He went 102 overall.
“It’s great to be drafted by the organization I grew up cheering for,” MacPhail told The Reporter last week. “I grew up going to their games, and not every kid has the chance to be drafted by the team they were cheering for.
“When I was younger and wasn’t as busy with hockey, we’d make our way down to Sydney. We went to a couple of playoff games this year to watch Colton Ellis when they played Rimouski. They had a wicked team this year, and they were really fun to watch.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be drafted, and I’m really looking forward to getting started.”
MacPhail is coming off his first year of Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League action, and he was looked at as a go-to guy for the Cape Breton West Islanders. He was named Rookie of the Year for the team, and outside NSMMHL play, he visited the Canada Games with Team Nova Scotia.
Before playing at this level, he was a standout with the Nova Major Bantams.
“Coach Nick MacNeil pushed me a lot,” MacKenzie said. “He gave me a lot of chances, and that really helped my confidence.”
MacKenzie said he also had great support from his parents, his teammates, and Nova Major Bantam coach Mike Stewart had a big impact on the goalie’s development, he said.
With the Screaming Eagles having two returning goalies, MacPhail is setting realistic goals at this point. He said having a good training camp with the team is mission number one.
“I’ll let them know I’m there whenever they need me, and hopefully I’ll go back to Cape Breton West with a good group,” he said. “We have a good group returning this year, and we’ll be ready for next season.”
Though MacPhail was the only Islander to go in the Q draft, that wasn’t the case at the Maritime Junior A Hockey League (MJAHL) entry draft on June 15 in Edmundston, New Brunswick. Five Cape Breton West Islanders were snatched up at that point.
Forward Neil MacLean went fourth overall in the first round. The Fredericton Red Wings claimed him.
Two Islanders went in the fourth round including goalie MacPhail (63rd overall to the Miramichi Timberwolves) and blueliner Dylan Chisholm (67th overall to the Valley Wildcats).
Round five also saw two Islanders drafted. Forward Dave Matthews (77th overall to the Pictou County Weeks Crushers) was drafted, and forward Louis Taylor (84th overall to the Valley Wildcats) was also snatched up.