Alexandria’s McKenzie Revering always knew nothing would be easy about moving from high school to Division I hockey in college, and it’s safe to say she was right about that.

Things haven’t been easy on the ice for Revering through her junior year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She’s dealt with a knee injury. She went from being a standout scoring defenseman for the Cardinals to still searching for her first college goal. Through it all, she has left an impression on her teammates to the point where she was voted by them as one of three captains for the Bulldogs for the 2020-21 season.

“I don’t regret going here at all,” Revering said. “I’m so happy that I chose Duluth. It’s been such an awesome experience. As far as hockey, obviously it hasn’t been easy. I’ve been in a lot of different roles -- playing, being injured, not playing. So it’s kind of cool to be part of all of that because I can relate to everybody.”

Revering thought she was on a casual Zoom chat with her coaches recently when she started to get the feeling that something was up. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the contact she can have with her teammates and coaching staff, so it was on a video call that her coaches shared the news with her. The Bulldogs’ Ashton Bell will serve as team captain next year, while Anna Klein joins Revering as the two assistant captains.

“I just got chills,” Revering said of receiving the news. “It was such a cool feeling. I just love being a Bulldog, and it’s so cool to think I get to be one of the captains of the team.”

Another knee injury

For Revering, getting captain status was a reward for the work she has put in at Duluth.

Her career as a Bulldog was hindered a bit from the get-go after she tore her ACL in her senior year of high school during the fall season in soccer. Revering rehabbed and got back on the ice for the Cardinals for the first time in early February of 2017, but it takes a while to get to full strength after surgery from a serious knee injury like that.

McKenzie Revering has battled injury and multiple roles for the Bulldogs during her time at the University of Minnesota-Duluth on her way to becoming one of three captains for the 2020-21 season. (Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota-Duluth)
McKenzie Revering has battled injury and multiple roles for the Bulldogs during her time at the University of Minnesota-Duluth on her way to becoming one of three captains for the 2020-21 season. (Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota-Duluth)

Revering was back at that point when she suffered another setback. Another injury to the knee her sophomore year at Duluth left her with a torn MCL. During the MRI, it was discovered that her ACL was also partially torn.

“They didn’t know if it was from that or if it had gotten torn through the years after my surgery,” she said.

Revering was told that others have continued to play on a partially torn ACL. She was left with a decision -- have surgery and go through the long rehab process again or take a chance with playing on the knee. She chose the latter, seeing the ice in 36 games this past season.

“My MCL is healed, so I’m just playing on a partially torn ACL now. At first it was more just a mental thing,” Revering said. “I think about it still once in a while. What if I do tear it all the way? But it’s been way better than I thought it was going to be.”

An honor for hard work

Revering got in every game this year as the Bulldogs improved on back-to-back 15-win seasons by going 18-12-6, but her ice time was limited.

That’s an adjustment for any player who goes from being the top athlete on their high school team to trying to find a fit at the highest level of college hockey.

“My role changed completely,” Revering said. “At first it’s hard, but I think my coaches and teammates helped me understand that understanding your role is going to help a lot. One of the big things is I come every day and work my butt off. I act like I’m a starting player. The younger kids realize that I’m accepting the role the coaches are giving me, but I’m not content with it.”

Revering has never let her role on the ice affect her attitude off it.

“I have a big energy, supportive, positive role on the team,” she said. “I’ve been in a lot of different roles, so I can relate. It’s easy to talk to a lot of girls about their roles because I’ve been there. I don’t let adversity stop us from having fun and working hard toward our goals of winning.”

The Bulldogs went 11-8-5 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association this past season and finished fourth in the league behind Wisconsin (28-5-3, 17-4-3 WCHA), Minnesota (27-6-3, 17-5-2 WCHA) and Ohio State (24-8-6, 13-6-5 WCHA). Revering likes the young talent the Bulldogs have coming back next season, and she is excited to try to earn an even bigger role herself on the ice during her final year.

“I just had my exit meetings with my coaches. We’re on the same page,” Revering said. “My goal, and something I feel is very realistic, is to be a top-four defender, play every single night, and just be out there consistently. The coaches know that I’m coming in next year fired up. I told them that the other ‘D’ better step up too because I’m going to be coming in ready to go.”

Revering knows it won’t be easy, but that’s nothing new for her.

“The ball is in my court,” she said. “If I work my butt off this summer and I’m unafraid and do what I need to do, it’s going to be a good year.”