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Mark Hillier is shown during a Western AAA Bantam Kings practice in December 2016.
©Star file photo
Mark Hillier knew he was being watched.
When he and his Western Bantam AAA Kings teammates travelled to Halifax, N.S. last week to participate in the East Coast IceJam hockey tournament, the understanding was the place would be littered with scouts.
The Kings — and Hillier especially — really ramped up their games. The local club went 2-2 against some of the top teams in Atlantic Canada.
Hillier, the captain, recorded five goals and two assists in the four games — three, actually, as he was held off the score sheet in the fourth and final game.
“I tried to play the best I could so that people would recognize me,” Hillier said Monday, hours after he and the team got back to Corner Brook.
“It didn’t change my game too much, said Hillier, who leads the provincial bantam AAA league with 41 points (21G-20A) in 19 games for the league-leading Kings (17-2-0-0).
“I tried to focus on my game, and that’s what I did.”
When their tournament ended on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to the Dartmouth Whalers, an IceJam organizer visited the Kings locker room with big news — Hillier had been named the top bantam forward in the entire 27-team division.
“I was surprised,” said Hillier, who said he had no thoughts about something like that happening, even though he knew he was playing well.
“I was very happy to win that for me and my team.”
Though he didn’t talk to any scouts, he said his mother did, but the five-foot-11, 155-pounder is putting those thoughts out of his mind for now.
There’s still more hockey to be played, as the Kings look to continue their domination of the provincial league down the stretch.
Hillier believes the key to doing so is following the IceJam blueprint of not worrying about what the opposition is doing and simply sticking to their game plan.
“We knew we were going to face some tough teams up there, so we just focused on our own game,” he explained, noting they could have wound up with four wins, as their two losses were in close games.
“We just need to play the rest of our (provincial) games like we played up there and we’ll be all right.”
Here’s how Mark Hillier and the Kings fared at East Coast IceJam ’17:
— 5-1 win over Bedford Lions (Hillier – 2G)
— 4-3 loss to Landmark Gulls (Hillier – 1G-1A)
— 7-3 win over Kings Mutual Valley Wildcats (Hillier – 2G-1A)
— 3-1 loss to Dartmouth Whalers (Hillier – 0P)