Just ask Mark Hillier, a Labrador city native living in Corner Brook. Just recently he accepted an offer to play for the St. Andrew’s College Saints in the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association based in the Greater Toronto area (see above story).
It’s a move that has officials at the school looking forward to penciling the high scoring forward into their lineup.
David Manning, a native of St. John’s, is in his 10th season as coach of the Saints and always keeps a keen eye out for potential student-athletes from his native province.
Manning had watched six or seven videos of Hillier in action so he had a pretty good idea of what he brings to the table from a hockey perspective
Then he got a better feel for the new prospect after Mark was invited up to St. Andrew’s College back in February to check out the school and hit the ice for a number of workouts.
He also had a former United States college player from Corner Brook call him out of the blue promoting Hillier as a player Canning might want to take a serious look at and there appears to be others who have been strong advocates for the five-foot-10 forward.
“He exceeded my expectations, to be quite honest with you, when I had a chance to see him in person,” Canning said.
When looking for potential student-athletes, Manning said hockey skillset is obviously important. But at St. Andrew’s College, he said, good character, good leadership qualities and being a great student are equally important in the recruitment effort and he believes Hillier will be a great fit for the program.
“We put a lot more time and effort into figuring out who people are,” he said.
Hillier’s resume is pretty impressive. He was chosen the top forward in the 27-team bantam division at the 2017 East Coast IceJam showcase tournament this year, and he was also top scorer and MVP for the Western Kings in the provincial AAA bantam hockey league last winter.
A world-class education and an environment where he will be challenged to take his game to the next level is what awaits Hillier, according to his coach. He feels it’s a matter of Hillier being immersed in the opportunity and working for what he wants for his future.
“I think you could see a kid who is going to do some special things down the road,” he said.