Okotoks Junior commits to Vermont
Hockey: Canmore Eagle Trey Phillips gets NCAA scholarship
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
An Okotoks defenceman got a scholarship offer he just couldn’t refuse last week.
Canmore Eagles blueliner Trey Phillips committed to the Division I University of Vermont Catamounts just days in advance of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s (AJHL) showcase scouting weekend.
“The end of last year, my second half, is when I got on their radar. And the start of this year I started strong again and they wanted to offer me something right away,” said Phillips, ecstatic to lock up a collegiate home. “I’m pretty excited to get it done before showcase in my last year with all that pressure.
“It’s always been in the back of my mind. So it’s a pretty big relief.”
The 20-year-old Okotokian has been a gifted puck-moving defenceman for the Eagles for four seasons. Through five games this year he’s already posted three goals and seven points.
“I’m a powerplay guy,” Phillips said. “And I think that’s something (Vermont) were looking for out of the backend.”
The Vermont Catamounts compete in the NCAA’s Hockey East conference alongside the likes of Boston College, Notre Dame, Providence and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
Vermont boasts a litany of alumni who’ve gone on to the NHL including Patrick Sharp and Viktor Stalberg, Stanley Cup champions with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, as well as perennial all-star Martin St. Louis and controversial goaltender Tim Thomas.
In 2014-15, Phillips will join a Vermont squad loaded with Okotoks Oilers talent, featuring Oilers all-time leading scorer Kyle Reynolds, franchise games played leader Jon Turk as well as defencemen Robert Hamilton and Caylen Walls.
In fact, Turk’s positive comments about his Catamount experience relayed to Phillips helped the latter’s decision to commit to the school.
Having finalized his post-Junior hockey plans, Phillips is seeking to accomplish a few more feats in his final season in the Alberta loop.
“I’d love to win a championship, that’s what its all about in Junior hockey,” he said. “Now that the scholarship is out of the way I can really enjoy my last year and really work hard and hopefully win with my teammates.”
His road to a Division I scholarship was not without detours.
Eagles head coach/general manager Andrew Milne said it was a process for his top defenceman to round out his overall game and utilize his tremendous speed for great positional play in all three zones.
“There’s a misconception that these (scholarships) just happen overnight,” Milne said. “As a 17 and 18-year-old, Trey was a very skilled individual. He just wasn’t quite sure where or when to use that skill to jump into spots and maybe lacked a little bit of strength.
“His skating over the years has just improved so much and his stick work has developed into a very strong asset of his.”
It’s a progression that’s put the Eagles alternate captain in a crop amongst the best defencemen in the AJHL, according to Milne.
“I was pretty confident Trey was going to have the abilities to be able to get a scholarship,” the coach said. “At times throughout the last three or four years, I wasn’t sure he was willing to put in the work.
“He’s persevered through a lot and put himself in a position to gain this opportunity and worked at it. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
To keep up with Trey Phillips and the Eagles visit the team website at canmoreeagles.ca