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Sophomore goaltender fills big void for Byron Center hockey

Carson MacKenzie helps lead BC to 6-0 start
Carson MacKenzie helps Byron Center to unbeaten start
Posted at 7:11 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 23:03:34-05

BYRON CENTER, Mich. — The Byron Center hockey team didn't have many questions to answer this season after making it all the way to the state semifinals last year and only losing two seniors from that team.

The one glaring question, however, was who would step up in net for the Bulldogs.

So far this season, sophomore Carson MacKenzie has answered that question.

"I played like one or two games last year," MacKenzie said.

Byron Center goaltender leads team to 6-0 start

On the loaded Bulldogs roster in the 2019-20 season as a freshman, MacKenzie played in just two games behind senior Levi Sall.

"Just be happy with what you get," MacKenzie said on his mindset the past two seasons, "take advantage of the opportunity when playing in net."

Head coach Taylor Keyworth has been impressed with the composure and work ethic of his sophomore goaltender.

"He was on the team as a freshman, having a senior goalie he knew he wasn't going to play much," Keyworth added, "so for him to step in and have a year of practice last year and now he's live in games and he's our guy, good for him for being prepared. He worked in the offseason and came ready."

This season, MacKenzie is 4-0 on the season while junior backup Tyler Bylsma has gone 2-0 in his starts.

"It's just coming to the rink every day and bringing an attitude like you want to win and having guys like this on my team, it's awesome," MacKenzie said, "the energy on the bench and energy in the locker room, it's awesome coming out here every day."

The Bulldogs were getting set to play in a state semifinal last season before COVID-19 shut it down but now, they're the second ranked team in the state in Division 2.

"It's a lot of pressure," admitted MacKenzie, "but having a great coach and team behind me, they always have my back and they're always making sure I'm getting better. We also have a great backup in Tyler Bylsma and he's playing great in net right now, too."

MacKenzie is the lone player on the Byron Center roster from Wayland Union High School as part of their co-op but he has been accepted since day one.

"The confidence is at its highest right now," MacKenzie said, "these boys are playing their butts off, they're coming out to practice and giving it their all, I think we can go all the way this year."

And Keyworth is excited about the way his team is coming together with ten seniors and MacKenzie playing the way he is.

"He's getting better every day, he's been really solid," said Keyworth, "obviously, having a good team in front of him helps, but hopefully we're building his confidence and he's taking the ball and running with it."

The Bulldogs will host Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Wednesday at 2 PM at Southside Ice Arena.