He is cool and collected, despite the fact a great opportunity has been presented to him.
He’s considered one of the best bantam hockey players in Atlantic Canada and a player many different schools had been trying to lure their way over the past year.
The next chapter for Hillier, Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer for the provincial AAA bantam hockey league last season, will be stories about life at St. Andrew’s College as a member of the Saints varsity team in the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association.
Teams from the school regularly take road trips to the United States to play against elite teams such as Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Minneapolis, a school that NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby and Jonathon Toews played for on the way to their amazing careers.
Hillier moved to Corner Brook two years ago from Labrador City to join the Kings. He knew he had to find his way to a better hockey climate to pursue a college hockey scholarship in the United States some day so he welcomed the move.
While he only had two years with the Kings, it was enough time to meet some good friends, teammates and coaches, but now he has to bid farewell and that’s been one of the toughest things about moving away.
“I know that if I’m going to improve even more I have to get out of the province,” Hillier said Thursday afternoon with his St. Andrew’s College hoodie on his back.
A guy with Hillier’s hockey pedigree is attractive to coaches looking to improve their rosters so it’s no surprise that there were a handful of schools interested in getting him to play for them.
But, Hillier and his mom Cyrilla were sold on the idea of going to St. Andrew’s after they spent a few days visiting the school and Mark hit the ice for a couple of practices.
Mark liked the idea that an all-male school would mean less distractions from the female gender and he was impressed with the people he met on and off the ice.
He was a little nervous when he went on the ice with a group of strangers who had played at a higher level of hockey than him and were older than him.
Mark is the only 15-year-old penciled in for the Saints varsity team this season and he feels confident he will be just fine in his adjustment to the level of play, but he plans on working hard over the summer to increase his footspeed because the coaching staff expect him to be when he arrives in early August.
“It looked like a good fit for me,” he said.
It was his decision to choose St. Andrew’s over the other schools, but he appreciates the fact his mom and family members understand why he is willing to do what it takes to bring his game to another level.
It’s somewhat sad for them all because they found a new family in Corner Brook, but they plan on making the most of an opportunity they didn’t figure they could pass up.
“I’m just following him,” his mom said.
Miles away from his friends pretty soon will be a tough test of his mettle, but he knows the road to success sometimes means peaks and valleys so he’s just ready to take on the challenge with vigour like he’s done with every stride along the way.