High-flying Eagle swoops in on double-honour
Hockey: Okotokian Trey Phillips named league MVP, Outstanding Defenceman
Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 06:00 am
An Okotokian might want to install a mantelpiece in his dorm room at the University of Vermont in the fall.
Canmore Eagle blueliner Trey Phillips is going to need the space to display his well-earned hardware after being voted the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player and Outstanding Defenceman on Monday.
“It’s a huge honour. There are a lot of good players who could have won it,” said an awe-struck Phillips on Monday. “I can’t thank my teammates enough, without all of them and the coaching staff here and the Canmore Eagles organization it wouldn’t have been possible.
“I remember being an 18-year-old with 10 points. The first half of year I played forward then played D again. I couldn’t have imagined something like this happening.”
Phillips’ MVP nod is a rare feat from the blueline. He joins Spruce Grove Saint Connor Hardowa as the only defenceman to earn most valuable player honours since the early 90s.
“It’s usually a forward,” said Phillips, who’s off to the University of Vermont in the fall. “But it just goes to show that defence is pretty important.”
The 20-year-old fits the model of the modern-age rover type defenceman who is solid in his own zone and extremely effective at picking his spots and adding depth to the attack. He’s 10th in league scoring with 23 goals and 60 points this season.
“I knew we had something special with Trey a while back,” said Eagles head coach Andrew Milne. “There’s been years where his offence was great, years where his defence was great and this year he’s been able to put them both into play.”
Phillips is the first Eagle to win league MVP since Mark Bomersback’s juggernaut season in 2002-03 and is the first in franchise history to take home Outstanding Defenceman honours.
“We’re real happy for Trey,” Milne said. “He’s put in a lot of effort and there has been a lot of people behind the scenes that have helped Trey get to this point in his hockey career.
“I’m glad he’s recognized for these efforts.”
Huge accomplishments at the Junior level, though he’s right back to square one as a freshman with the Vermont Catamounts in 2014-15.
“It gives me some confidence going in,” Phillips said. “But I know I’ll have to prove myself all over again next year.”
Twenty-four hours before taking home the pair of awards, Phillips watched as Vermont alumni Patrick Sharp and Martin St. Louis won Olympic gold with Team Canada in Sochi.
You can’t buy inspiration like that.
“The hope is there to one day play in the NHL,” he said. “So to see those guys do it, it’s pretty cool to be able to go to the same school they’ve been to.”
For the full list of award winners go to ajhl.ca.