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It’s a waiting game for Halifax defenceman


By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Writer MONCTON







He doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as some of his teammates who could be starring in the National Hockey League as early as next season, but Trey Lewis, a Mi’kmaq from New Brunswick’s Elsipogtog First Nation, can take pride in the fact he also won the ultimate prize in Canadian junior hockey circles.
In fact, the 20-year-old defenceman was a captain for the Halifax Mooseheads, who captured the Memorial Cup.

Lewis and his teammates won the trophy, annually awarded to the top Canadian Hockey League squad, on May 26 in Saskatoon. Halifax defeated the Portland Winterhawks 6-4 in the championship final.

The Mooseheads’ roster includes forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. Both are expected to be among the top three picks selected at this year’s NHL Entry Draft, scheduled for June 29 in New Jersey.

The Halifax squad had a campaign that junior hockey followers will no doubt be talking about for years to come.

“It was pretty amazing to be a part of that,” Lewis said.

The Mooseheads won a whopping 58 out of their 68 regular season contests.

“Our regular season was incredible,” Lewis said. “And then we only lost one playoff game (out of 17).”

The Halifax club advanced to the four-team national tournament by winning the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League crown. Portland, an Oregon-based franchise, earned its trip to the Memorial Cup by winning the Western Hockey League (WHL) title.

The Memorial Cup tourney also included the Ontario Hockey League champion London Knights as well as the host Saskatoon Blades, members of the WHL.

Lewis believes the fact the Mooseheads participated in the national tournament will be beneficial for several of the team’s players.

“Going that far and playing in the Memorial Cup there’s definitely a better chance of getting noticed,” he said. “And it doesn’t just benefit the superstars on our team but a few of the other guys and myself as well.”

Being a stay-at-home defenceman, Lewis’ primary job is to take care of business in his own end. So there’s not much of a spotlight on him as he, for the most part, quietly did his job. And his stats—23 points including five goals in 59 games—are not going to generate many headlines.

But Lewis’ value to the club was demonstrated by the fact he was one of two Halifax players who served as the Mooseheads’ captains this season. Lewis wore the C on his jersey for the squad’s home games and forward Stefan Fournier had the ‘C’ for the club’s road contests.

Unlike MacKinnon and Drouin, who are expected to be high NHL draft picks, Lewis was bypassed by all teams in each of the past two pro drafts that he was eligible for. And it’s unlikely a team will draft him this month.

But through his agent and coach he has heard that some NHL clubs are possibly interested in his services. There’s a chance one of these teams will invite him to their training camp this September.

“I’d love to play pro somewhere, whether it is in Europe or in North America,” Lewis said.

Should a pro invite not materialize for this September, there’s a good chance Lewis will return to the Mooseheads. The team is allowed to carry a maximum of three overage players, individuals who are 20 when the regular season starts.

“They’ve said they want me back,” Lewis said of the Halifax brass.

Ideally though, Lewis would prefer to turn pro.

“If there was an offer to play pro I’d definitely take that and I would jump all over it,” he said. “The worst case scenario for me is coming back to Halifax for another season, which wouldn’t be that bad at all.”

Though MacKinnon and Drouin will go early in the NHL draft, there’s no guarantees they will crack their respective pro teams right away.

It’s unknown how many members of the Mooseheads’ roster will return for another shot at more junior glory.

“So much is up in the air with what’s going to happen with some of our guys in the draft,” Lewis said. “We don’t know which guys are coming back. And it depends on how some of our draft picks work out.

We’ll still have a good team though.”

Should he return for another year with the Mooseheads, Lewis would like to take on an additional role. As a shutdown defenceman, he had his share of penalty killing duties this year. He’d welcome a chance to also play on the Halifax power play unit.

“I’d like to bring out the offensive side to my game,” Lewis said, adding he was last known for putting up some points during his midget season, four years ago, before he joined the Mooseheads.