He could feel the electricity in the air.
He was among the dozens of prospects looking to hear his name called at the 2018 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Draft Saturday afternoon in Shawinigan, Que.
It was a great atmosphere to be in, knowing so much was at stake for the hopefuls.
It was one of the most intense events of his life, but it all ended with a smile on his face and hope for the next chapter in his journey.
Former Western Kings sniper Mark Hillier, a 15- year-old Labrador City native, was among the handful of Newfoundland-born players to be selected Saturday in Shawinigan.
The six-foot forward won MVP honours and the scoring title two years ago with the Western Kings in the provincial AAA bantam hockey league before spending last winter playing with the St. Andrew’s College Saints of the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association based out of Aurora, Ont.
Hillier was drafted by the Wildcats in the fourth round, 64th overall. It was a proud moment that she shared with his mom, Cyrilla, and older brother, Brandon, who tagged along for the occasion.
“Just sitting there waiting for your name to be called is a little nerve-wracking,” Hillier said Monday from Aurora. “You’re shaking in your seat a bit waiting, but when you hear your name called that’s the moment where all the work you put in is finally paying off.”
Hillier was on the radar for a couple of teams before the draft, but he had a pretty good feeling about being picked by the Wildcats. He met with Wildcats brass the evening before the draft and the conversation was very positive with both sides showing interest in getting Hillier into a Wildcats jersey, so it didn’t exactly catch him off guard.
“I was very happy. They are a great organization and I was just very pleased to be selected by them,” he said.
Hillier plans on hitting the gym and getting lots of ice-time over the summer months free from the hectic classroom schedule that he experienced this past year playing with the Saints.
The Moncton Wildcats open training camp Aug. 15 and Hillier is going to the tryout with hopes of cracking the roster.
He hasn’t given any real thought into what comes next because he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. He’s just enjoying the good news and fully aware that hard work and commitment is more important than ever with the Wildcats showing belief in him as a hockey player.
“If I have the chance to play in Moncton next year I think it will be a great opportunity for me and I’d be definitely very excited to take that opportunity,” he said.