When we think of Gold, the gold rushes of the 19th century come to mind, most notably the California Gold Rush and the Klondike Gold Rush. But gold was first discovered in the US near Waxhaw, North Carolina in the century before those events occurred. And Waxhaw just happens to be where our our Season Six rookie center #22 MacKenzie Lancaster hails from. Although technically, Kenzie also qualifies as one of the Whale’s “Jersey Girls” When we asked her about that she replied “Yeah, born in New Jersey and moved to North Carolina when I was one, so I don’t remember too much of it” she laughed. “But I was born in Morristown, New Jersey.” Kenzie then had to take a somewhat less traditional journey through the world of hockey to arrive in Connecticut, where she wore the bright gold hockey sweater for Quinnipiac. But we started things off by asking how it came to be that Kenzie was skating for the Pod this season. She explained
"So obviously, I played at Quinnipiac so Connecticut has been home for awhile. I am currently the Assistant Coach at Connecticut College as well. And because of Covid this year, from Thanksgiving until February, right now, our players have been at home and not on campus. So I had the opportunity to lace up the skates again, and I am very fortunate to be able to do that, I didn’t think I’d be able to play again. Basically I had known Laura, she’s a Quinnipiac alumni as well, and I’m close with Abbie Ives. And so talking with them, they were preparing for what the season would look like. And when they found out it was going to be a condensed season up at Lake Placid, they said: We could always use your talent. So that’s kind of how it came about. It was just good timing with my career, and they were looking for players. So I started practicing with them in November, so a short time to prepare. But I did the best I could and was able to help the team in the three games I played in up at Lake Placid, so it was great. The hard part was, they could only bring so many players up there, and with Covid, we ended up bringing up three more players who had been practicing with the team. But it was a tough situation, balancing how many players you could bring,with how many players you actually need to fill the teams.” It’s been great, it’s a great team, Colten and Laura, all the players, have been super welcoming.So, very fortunate”
Waxhaw is located near Charlotte, North Carolina, and sits near the border with South Carolina. That area is hardly a hockey hot bed, especially when Kenzie was growing up. So dialing it back a bit, Cetacean Nation wondered how Kenzie got started in hockey in the first place. She told us “My older brother, he really got me started. So he’s like seven years older than me and was always looking for someone to go play roller hockey with. So then playing roller hockey and street hockey at first. And then when I got my first pair of skates, I fell in love with the game, and never looked back really. But he was the one who introduced me to it. Neither of my parents played, so it’s just one of those things. I think he (my brother) maybe saw a New Jersey Devils game when he was younger and wanted to try to play. And my parents said:Sure! It was a huge passion for both of us and still us to this day.”
We wondered if Kenzie had played any other sports growing and she informed us “Yes, I played lacrosse. My mom was actually a Division I lacrosse player at James Madison University. And so I played lacrosse all throughout high school, and at Berkshire School as well. I love the game, but it doesn’t compare to hockey, though there is a decent amount of crossover between the two sports.“
Although hockey may not be the first sport that comes to mind when you think of North Carolina, we have had a couple of recent Whale who hailed from there. Both Tiberi and Colleen Murphy are from the Raleigh area, and we asked if Kenzie had run across them down there.
“A little bit. I never played with them, but obviously there’s not a lot of female hockey players out of North Carolina, so I always knew them, both great hockey players. I would say Raleigh has had more female hockey players, but Charlotte has been growing. We have Kyra McDonald, she played at Elmira College. She never played in the league but she was somebody I grew up playing with in North Carolina. We’ve had in the past four or five years, a couple of girls go on to play Division III level. It’s growing, but it’s still pretty new. I played on an all boys team, but now I think they have an all girls team. But it’s tough to play the top tier teams in the country when you don’t have as much talent to pull from. So if a girl is really talented, she’ll probably play with the boys for a couple of years, and then look for a more skilled girls team. It was definitely a different path for me growing up and playing there. Like I said, I played boys for awhile, and when I was about fourteen I switched over to girls and started playing for a team out of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguins Elites. My parents coming from North Carolina, spent their weekends traveling with me to Detroit or whatnot. And then I went to Berkshire School for my last years of high school. Just to settle everything down, so I wasn’t traveling so much” she laughed. “ So I had all my life in one spot.”
We asked if coming to New England to play at Berkshire was how Kenzie got noticed by Quinnipiac. But she revealed
“i actually started talking to the Quinnipiac coaches before I came to Berkshire. They had seen me play with Pittsburgh Elite, different tournaments and stuff, I think it was my junior year I decided to go to there, and it really just came down to the people and the feeling I got when I was on campus. I loved the size of the school, and all the classes are in a central campus location. But it is not too small, to the point where you’re seeing everybody everyday. I got that at prep school” she laughed “ so I wanted a little bit bigger when I got to college. And I knew that it was going to challenge me and allow me to become the best hockey player that I could in the four years I was there. The coaching staff, our strength and conditioning coach, and just all of the athletic support thar we received as student athletes there was just top notch. We’re treated like professionals, and it was an amazing experience. I loved my four years there, and wouldn’t change a thing. Very glad I made the right decision.”