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Former St. Vincent athlete Adam McKenzie excelling for Air Force

  • Adam McKenzie, a former two-time All-Empire baseball player at St. Vincent High School, has excelled in ice hockey, where he's a senior captain at the Air Force Academy. (Air Force Academy Athletics)

When Adam McKenzie was flying around the Redwood Empire Ice Arena as a 5-year-old, he never imagined the heights he would reach in competitive ice hockey.

From those first days putting stick on puck, the one-time All-Empire baseball standout from St. Vincent has developed into one of the nation's premier defenseman with the Air Force Academy.

A trip with the Falcons to the NCAA tournament this season would add to the highlights of a sterling amateur career.

“This is awesome. It's obviously more than I imagined as a kid,” McKenzie said.

Captaining the Air Force squad — ranked 25th in NCAA Division I — is the latest of McKenzie's honors, which includes being named an Academic All-American and the league's Defenseman of the Year.

“He's arguably our most valuable player. He wants to win,” said longtime Air Force coach Frank Serratore. “I'd take 20 more Adam McKenzie's.”

Hockey absorbed McKenzie's focus as an athlete when he first laced up a pair of skates for the mite league at Redwood Empire Ice Arena. Already a strong skater after weekend outings on the ice with his parents, McKenzie soon took to hockey's basic skills and was captivated by the game's speed.

“I loved wheeling around and going fast on skates,” McKenzie said. “I loved playing up there. The rink was great.”

After six years of playing increasingly competitive hockey for Redwood Empire teams, McKenzie wanted to test his abilities on the best teams in Northern California. McKenzie joined a Vacaville club for two years. The increase in competition helped McKenzie gain greater confidence.

His upward trajectory continued early in high school, when he was selected at a tryout for the San Jose Jr. Sharks club. What followed was a journey to the far corners of junior hockey.

“I wanted to keep playing at higher levels,” McKenzie said. So he did. The top Sharks teams are college prep squads.

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