MacEachern adjusting to leap from high school to USHL

By Tom Schreier
Mackenzie MacEachern - St. Louis Blues

 

Mackenzie MacEachern became a YouTube sensation in the hockey community after scoring a diving goal (see below) for the Chicago Steel earlier this season.

The announcer for that goal compared the teenage forward's diving marker to the Stanley Cup-winning leap by the great Bobby Orr, which may have been an overstatement, but the play was spectacular enough to accrue 8000-plus views.

“His size and overall skill set are probably his strengths right now,” says Steel head coach and general manager Scott McConnell of his 6’3”, 180-pound player. “He’s got a good shot and can fire it.”

And, well, apparently he can dive and tip pucks out of mid-air, too.

In a lesser-viewed YouTube clip filmed on the day of the USHL Draft, McConnell admits to 900-plus viewers that he was surprised MacEachern dropped to Chicago at No. 4.

“He’s got a pretty high ceiling as far as we’re concerned,” says McConnell.

That, on the other hand, might be an understatement.

MacEachern scored 160 points at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, MI and subsequently won the state’s Mr. Hockey Award. He is currently committed to Michigan State University.

“I can score,” says MacEachern who had three goals and nine points before suffering an  injury at the end of October. “I just have to start learning how to protect the puck a little bit more and make plays a little bit faster.”

McConnell feels he has untapped potential that can be mined if he can take advantage of his large frame.

“What we want from him is to learn to use his body a little bit more,” says his coach, “learn how much strength he actually possesses and be able to protect the puck and control the game a little bit more than what he’s doing right now,”

This is not atypical of many players coming into the league. MacEachern grew up in Troy, MI and went to school 20 minutes outside of Detroit, a hockey hotbed, but says that despite playing against some of the best high school players in the country, the USHL is a significant step up.

“A little different league than this,” he says with a slight chuckle. “Things are a little bit slower there.”

“I don’t think he realized how quick it was and how fast things happen,” says McConnell of the difference between high school and junior hockey. “He’s adjusting to that.  He’s adjusting to the details and the plays that we talk about that your average person wouldn’t see, things that he got away with in high school that he’s just not going to be able to get away with here.”

All of the extra work he’s putting in to get quicker must be doing a number on him. While his junior hockey peers often enjoy golfing, playing Xbox and watching movies when they are off the ice, MacEachern has one activity on his mind.

“Resting,” he says, “because hockey is mostly my life. We’re at the rink for a good six hours a day so I just want to go home and relax.”

MacEachern has plenty of incentive to improve. Earlier this year in Pittsburgh, the St. Louis Blues selected him in the third round, 67th overall, of the 2012 NHL Draft.

“It was an unreal feeling,” he says. “It was surreal when it happened. Everyone dreams of being drafted growing up and the dream came true. It was so awesome.”

McConnell believes that it is MacEachern’s ability to play many roles on the ice that caught the eye of the Blues' scouting team.

“The Blues probably saw a kid that has good size, good strength and a base to grow on,” he says. “He can really step into a lineup and play top-6 minutes if he needs to. In the same breath, he can be a third line guy that can create match-up problems.”

You can take a look at MacEachern's highlight reel goal below:

Follow Tom Schreier on Twitter via @tschreier3

 

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