Weegar Soaking In His First AHL All-Star Classic

Jan 30, 2017
Allentown, PA-  With the new year not even a week old, and just days before his 23rd birthday, MacKenzie Weegar’s phone rang, and the resulting conversation would serve as validation for how far the young defenseman has risen in Springfield. 

“I was pretty excited to get the call, I didn’t see it coming,” he said. “When Geordie told me the news (that I had been named to the All-Star Classic), it made me happy and proud of myself. With all the support I have gotten (since that day), it has been really fun.”

Weegar is the Thunderbirds’ representative for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic, the first such honor in the Ottawa native’s pro career. His nomination also makes him the first-ever Thunderbirds’ All-Star. 

He earned that distinction despite missing 10 games between Thanksgiving and Christmas. His 33-game start has him on pace to shatter his pre-existing career high in points. His nine goals – already a career best – lead the Thunderbirds, and his 19 points are just five short of his entire 2015-16 total, when he skated in 62 games with Portland.

Despite his youth, Weegar is no stranger to the AHL landscape, having already played his 100th game early this season. In a new city, with a first-year head coach and on a team littered with both holdovers from the Portland Pirates and an influx of newcomers, Weegar has shown no signs of trouble with the transition.   

“I’ve just been trying to keep (my game) simple,” says Weegar, who is quick to point to teammates as a reason for his rise. “Our goaltending has been great, so I feel comfortable making plays, and with Geordie, I have a little more trust in my game.”

Perhaps no one teammate has been more instrumental in Weegar’s successes than his steady defense partner, rookie Ian McCoshen, who is second among all Thunderbirds with a +7 rating. 

“(Ian and I) get a good read off of each other; we’ve been playing 40 games with each other, and it has never switched. I have to thank him for getting me here,” Weegar humbly expresses.

Entering the PPL Center in Allentown with strangely no prior connections to his All-Star teammates, the youngster was admittedly nervous when his number was called instantly in Sunday’s skills competition for the first event, the puck control relay.

“I think I would’ve liked to have a little bit more time just to see everything and everybody, but I got the nerves out pretty quick.”

The nerves of Sunday gave way to the eye-opening ceremony of Monday, as four of the AHL’s greatest to ever play the game were inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame. Included in the quartet was former Springfield Falcons Rob Murray and Bryan Helmer.

“All you hear about is the history of hockey in Springfield, and when you see (Murray and Helmer) talking about Springfield, (Bruce Landon) and (equipment manager ‘Ralphie’ Calvanese), it’s nice to have that little connection,” Weegar said upon reflection. “Hopefully, one day I can say the same thing about Springfield if I’m lucky enough to be up there.”

For the man who won Springfield’s sold-out home opener on Oct. 22 in 3-on-3 fashion, Monday night’s 3-on-3 tournament served as the perfect culmination to a memorable 72 hours for the native of Canada’s capital city.

“It will be fun; I’m sure the fans will enjoy it, and I’m sure there will be a lot of scoring chances. Hopefully I can chip in some points, have fun and just try to soak it all in," Weegar said prior to opening the Challenge's scoring in the Atlantic's first of three victories on the night.
In total, Weegar's night finished with a goal and three assists, with a night of memories to carry back on the four-hour drive to Springfield. 
The Thunderbirds are back on the ice in regular season action this Friday night when they visit the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. 
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
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