Being a beat writer in the WHL, the in basket of my e-mail overflows on a daily basis. I try to take a peek at each one. This one caught my eye. It's a positive story about a teenage boy by John MacNeil of the Prince Albert Herald.
A week before the WHL regular season, Prince Albert Raiders rookie Marc Mackenzie scored a victory Thursday over a would-be bandit who broke into his billet home.
Mackenzie, a 16-year-old forward from Kelowna, B.C., surprised the home-invader at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday on Branion Drive in the city’s East Hill.
“I’m totally fine,” Mackenzie said a few hours after the incident. “Just a little busted-up fist, but that’s about it. “Stuff happens around here. I mean, it’s a great community, (but) it happens everywhere. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, especially when I leave the door unlocked.”
After attending morning classes at Carlton Comprehensive High School, Mackenzie was alone at his billet house when he encountered a man estimated to be in his mid-20s. A fight ensued and the intruder fled the scene on foot. “He was about my build, maybe bigger,” said Mackenzie, six-foot-two and about 190 pounds.
“He just tackled me in the coat room. I got up and basically tossed him into the wall and just pounded on him for a good five minutes.
“He just ran out the door and I chased him for a little bit, but what are you going to do if this guy runs back to his buddies and tells (them what happened)? He just ran down the street, and then I just clued in, there’s no point in running after this guy.”
Prince Albert City Police were still searching for the man Friday, a police spokesman said Friday night. Mackenize didn’t dress for Thursday night’s exhibition game against the Swift Current Broncos, but he hadn’t been scheduled to play.
He’s a safe bet to stick with the Raiders, who recruited him last season from the British Columbia junior B Chase Chiefs. He led the Chiefs with 163 penalty minutes.
Mackenize doesn’t turn 17 until November, but the potential power forward is already known for his toughness on the ice. And it’s apparent he can handle himself off the ice, too.
He wanted to downplay the incident, and Raiders’ management refused to comment, but Mackenzie’s name was widely circulated Friday on WHL-related blogs and fan websites. In several instances, he was labelled a hero.
“I’m not a hero,” he said. “But it does save us, I guess (my billets), a little bit of money and hassle, not to have a bunch of crap stolen.
“My MacBook was sitting right there. The TV is there. Everything is in the house. There’s computers everywhere. If no one was home, it would have been bad, but ”
Mackenzie was just settling in to watch a movie in the basement when he heard a knock on the main-level door of his billet home.
“I guess it was just someone knocking on the door to try to get in to see if people were home,” he said. “And because I didn’t come upstairs fast enough, they just came in.”
Mackenzie found the intruder in the living room, viewing the player’s laptop.
“Oh, I probably scared the crap out of him,” he said. “He went after me first. I didn’t even touch the guy first. He just tackled me. I just said, ‘Who the f are you?’ and then he just tackled me into the closet.”
As it turned out, Mackenzie’s hockey instincts might have served him well.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Someone breaking and entering, there’s obviously something that’s going to get out of hand, if you walk in on him. You can’t just ask him to leave. I mean, they’re not going to wait for the cops (to arrive), that’s for sure.”
Mackenzie and the Raiders swing back into action tonight in Swift Current for the final game of their pre-season. The regular season begins next Friday in Saskatoon.
“The hockey has been very good,” said Mackenzie, who has had a solid pre-season, despite suffering from “a very bad” charley horse.
Off the ice, he remains comfortable at his billet home.
“I live in a safe place,” he said. “Good, safe billets.
“I mean, it was an accident where it happened. It could have happened anywhere. It’s not because it’s Prince Albert. It’s not the neighbourhood, or it’s not the area. It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just that people are people, some of them not the best.”
Mackenzie’s father, Andrew, concurred that his son is in a safe and happy home with his billet family.
“He loves them and they love him,” Andrew Mackenzie said. “His billets are upstanding people, fantastic people.” The Mackenzie family was thankful that Marc wasn’t injured in the incident.
“It certainly shook me up a lot when he called and said what happened,” Andrew Mackenzie said. “The kid may be six-foot-two and a half, or whatever, but to me, he’s only five-foot-five. He’s still a little boy, to me.”