Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
Consider the challenge accepted by Brockville Braves Jonathan Hill.
The Whitby-born blue-liner currently has 17 goals and he’s on pace to score 27 by the time the regular season ends in March, which would be one shy of the team record for most goals scored by a Braves defenceman in a single season held by Mike McCourt in 1989-90.
“I love a challenge, so if it’s around there then I think I might be able to pull it off with help from my teammates,” said Hill when asked how high he might be able to get his goal count to. “We’ll see what happens, it’s not what I’m, obviously, focused on, but it would be kind of cool. I think I can get up there if things keep going the way they’ve been going.”
At any point Hill could just go off, fill the net, and increase his scoring pace. He’s done it a few times already and he has three multi-goal games this season, which is as good or better than any Braves player on the roster right now.
At one point early in the season Hill was shocked he had three goals in eight games – a huge boost from the goose egg he put up last year. We’re just past the midway point of the season and he’s still setting the league on fire.
The 17 goals he’s already picked up is not only a CCHL-best for a defenceman this year, but it beats the league leaders on the blue line in the 2016-17 and 2015-16 seasons.
Eleven of his goals this year have come from the power play. That number isn’t just a CCHL-best for a defenceman, it’s a CCHL-best overall.
The 11 special team goals means Hill has potted 35 per cent of the Braves power play markers this season.
“I like the power play. As soon as we get a power play I think, ‘OK, this is kind of my thing,’and I expect something to happen,” said Hill. “Not just for me, but for someone to produce. It’s a bit more exciting when those opportunities come and I know that I’ve done it before, lets go do it again.”
Regardless if he breaks the Braves defenceman goal record or not, Hill is doing more than just elevating Brockville’s blue line. He’s upping the ante for the entire league.
It’s not just the fact Hill is scoring that has made him so dangerous this season. The big thing is the moments he has scored in that has made him such an asset for Brockville.
Before the Braves two-week hiatus, Hill helped the Braves rebound quickly and picked up a goal a minute after the Cornwall Colts opened the scoring in the first period. Against the Navan Grads on Dec. 8 he scored the game’s only goal. On Nov. 24 against the Rockland Nationals he added some insurance and gave his team some breathing room midway through the third period. On the road against the Ottawa Jr. Senators he scored 42 seconds into overtime – his third gamewinner of the season, which is another league high for a defenceman.
Obviously, being in his sophomore season and getting assigned alternate-captain status among a defensive group consisting mostly of rookies has given him more opportunity and he is definitely seizing the moment, but this year’s Hill looks different from last year’s version.
Even his shot looks different. Not so much the way he actually swings his stick, but where he’s shooting from has changed drastically and he credited that to being a big part of his success.
“I’ll pop up to the (Braves) Academy and (Braves coach Jesse Winchester) gives me a lot of advice in trying to pick your spots. Any shot is a good shot, but the higher percentage shots are the ones you’re looking for,” Hill said. “He gives me a bunch of knowledge from where he’s played, so he gives me tips on shooting from far away. Shooting from the blue line is a little bit trickier, so changing the angles and making sure pucks get through and we work on a little bit of deception, better angles and finding high percentage lanes.”
Hill isn’t a one-dimensional player. If you bring up Hill’s scoring prowess to Winchester, the coach will guide the conversation to everything else he provides – the hitting, the smart plays and work ethic. In other words, the things that college recruiters take notice of.
“The important thing to me is the edge that he plays with. He always competes, puts his body on the line, blocks shots,” Winchester said. “As he moves up the ranks that’s going to help separate him from other guys in terms of future potential as a hockey player, more so than the goals. The goals might not always be there, but the way he plays is always going to be effective.”
Original Story at Recorder.ca