He swooped down like a hawk at the Ontario Hockey League trade deadline and scooped up four players who have made a good Kitchener Rangers team even better.
Brazen and bold with more than a touch of blue-eyed smarts, rookie general manager Mike McKenzie has at least positioned the Rangers to challenge the favoured Soo Greyhounds for Western Conference supremacy along the approaching OHL playoff trail.
As it stands now, Kitchener is the no. 2 seed in the Western Conference with 72 points from a record of 35-15-2.
And players that the 31-year old McKenzie dealt for at the January 10 OHL trade deadline — while parting ways with stockpiled, excess future draft picks — have put up numbers that are rather impressive.
From goalie to defense to forward, McKenzie has refueled the Rangers with a number of able additions.
For starters, overage goalie Mario Culina has been a bargain basement acquisition since arriving from the Sudbury Wolves for a pocket-change, eighth-round draft pick.
A Sault Ste. Marie native and former backup goalie with the reigning Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires, Culina has been over the top since joining the Rangers from the last-place Wolves.
The slender tender has an 8-0-0 record to go with a .955 save percentage, 1.50 goals against average and two shutouts as a Ranger. And it is not as though it has been an easy ride for Culina, who has faced 267 shots — and stopped 255 of them — in 480 minutes of action with the Blueshirts.
Getting Culina is only part of what McKenzie has brought to Kitchener, however.
Other trade deadline deals delivered no. 1 center Logan Brown and overage defender Austin McEneny from Windsor and peppery, prickly forward Givani Smith from the Guelph Storm.
Brown, a first-round, National Hockey League draft pick of the Ottawa Senators who has a 1998 birth date, has 3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points in only 5 games in a Kitchener uniform.
McEneny has 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points in 12 games from his blue line post with the Rangers.
And Smith, a second-round NHL draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings who has a 1998 birth date, has delivered 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points in 12 games in a Kitchener jersey.
The deadline deliverance that McKenzie brought to Kitchener came on the heels of two key, earlier transactions that put 1998 birth year defenseman Logan Stanley and 1997 birth year overage forward Kole Sherwood in Ranger blue.
Stanley, a first round, NHL draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets, has 13 goals, 23 assists, 36 points in 49 games for the Rangers since being obtained from the aforementioned Spitfires just before the start of the 2017-2018 OHL season.
And Sherwood, a fibrous forward with a nasty edge who is under contract with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, has 22 goals, 23 assists, 45 points for Kitchener since being acquired from the Flint Firebirds.
Of note, Kitchener has not made it to the Western Conference finals since the 2011-2012 season.
And while there is no guarantee for success in the upcoming 2018 playoffs in a powerful Western Conference that will be extremely hard to move on from, McKenzie — as a novice GM in the OHL — has done his part to put the Rangers into serious contention with the likes of the Greyhounds and Sarnia Sting.
And don’t forget about potential Western sandwich dark horses that include the ever dangerous London Knights, the rising Saginaw Spirit and the lurking Owen Sound Attack, formidable foes who could provide a real challenge to the rampaging Rangers.
But as for the Rangers, if they can reduce the number of shots allowed per game, this could well be a team that plays well into spring, where hope is said to spring hockey eternal.
PHOTO: Kitchener Rangers general manager Mike McKenzie.