Mackey settling into marquee role for Flames’ farm club

CALGARY, AB – This was not ‘just another game.’

Maybe it’s easier to admit that when you’re not on the ice.

In this case, Calgary Flames defence prospect Connor Mackey — the rookie pro has three NHL appearances on his resume and is currently logging major minutes with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat — had just finished a day’s work and was nervously tracking his alma mater as the Minnesota State (Mankato) Mavericks quested to make school history and ultimately advance through the regional round to the NCAA’s Frozen Four.

Mackey was a workhorse for the Mavericks for three seasons before signing with the Flames last spring.

Mackey Family “Proud” of Son Connor and his NHL debut with Flames

CALGARY, AB – It certainly made for a late night in the American Midwest, but Dave Mackey wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

His boy, Connor – at 24 years old, and a free-agent signing of the Flames last March – was finally getting a look in The Show.

“We’re all a bit tired today,” Dave laughed Sunday from the Mackey family home in Tower Lakes, Ill. “In the moment, you don’t really appreciate all the emotions, the nervousness and the excitement you feel watching the game when he’s in there.

“Here, it was my wife and I, and Connor’s twin brother, Ian, watching Hockey Night in Canada.

“But Vancouver – where I’m from – was kind of a second home for Connor growing up. For him to be able to play his first game in that city, in that rink, was awesome.

Flames rookie Connor Mackey aims to follow father into NHL spotlight

CALGARY, AB – As a youngster, Connor Mackey received some advice from one of the original leaders of the Calgary Flames.

Connor’s father, Dave, reached the big leagues as a tough-as-nails forward and is a proud member of the Chicago Blackhawks alumni. When the old-timers in the Windy City would congregate for family-friendly holiday scrimmages, Dave would often bring his twin boys along.

“Here’s a story for you … Do you remember Phil Russell, the old captain of the Flames? I think he was No. 5,” Dave said over the phone from Tower Lakes, Ill. “I remember one time our alumni was skating, and he and Connor were D partners. I think Connor was, like, eight years old at the time. They came off and Phil gave him heck. He was like, ‘Hey, you’ve gotta move that puck to me a little quicker.’ ”

Dave chuckles.

“I always tell Phil, ‘I actually think he was looking you off,’ ” he continued. “But Connor goes, ‘Jeez Dad, I guess I have to move the puck a little quicker.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you might want to listen to that guy.’ ”

Indeed, Russell was a pretty good resource for an up-and-coming rearguard. He belongs to the NHL’s silver-stick club and played a five-season chunk of his 1,000-plus games with the Atlanta/Calgary Flames, serving as alternate captain when the franchise moved north and then having the ‘C’ stitched on his jersey from 1981-83.

Now 24, freshly signed out of the collegiate ranks and hoping to be tapped for his own NHL debut sometime soon, Connor is these days trying to learn as much he can from the current leader of the Flames. In a nice bit of symmetry, Mark Giordano wears No. 5, too.

Giordano, apparently, has been impressed. At the outset of training camp, based on what he’d witnessed in small-group skates, he singled out the rookie pro as a guy who “looks like he’s pretty close to being ready to play.”

When a not-long-ago Norris Trophy winner makes a comment like that, it gets back to the newcomer pretty quick.

“That was cool to hear, for sure,” Connor said.

The Flames’ coaching staff must be impressed, too, with what their prized college free-agent signing has shown since the team opened camp last weekend.

They’ve now rearranged their groups, with all of the everyday NHLers lumped together in the morning wave. Mackey is the only guy in those star-studded sessions who has yet to log action at the highest level. It is, he admitted, “definitely a confidence-booster” to be keeping that sort of company.

College coach believes Flames signing Connor Mackey has bright future

CALGARY, AB – Mike Hastings, over the phone from Mankato, Minn., is being quizzed about Connor Mackey.

Which, for the head coach of the NCAA’s Minnesota State University Mavericks hockey program, is nothing new.

Every week, all winter, NHL scouts were asking about the late-blooming blue-liner who ultimately inked an entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames.

“Put it this way — he made one team happy (Friday), and I think there were a lot of others that were disappointed that they weren’t the group that had the opportunity to sign him,” Hastings said.

Flames Sign Coveted College Free Agent Connor Mackey to One Year Contract

CALGARY, AB – The Calgary Flames announced today that they have signed college free agent defenceman Connor Mackey to a one-year entry-level contract starting in 2020-21.

Mackey, a native of Barrington, Illinois plays at Minnesota State University – Mankato, where he finished the season with seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points in 36 games. The 23-year-old skated in three seasons for Minnesota State University – Mankato, totaling 18 goals and 43 assists for 61 points in 118 games from 2016-17 to 2019-20. The 6’2.5″ blueliner was named to the WCHA First All-Star team this past season finishing at a league-high +19 and helping the Mavericks to a league-best 31-5-2 record. Mackey was the USHL Defenceman of the Year in 2017 and also made the USHL First All-Star team.