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Glacier Kings follow Hails
After almost six months of rehab for a ruptured ACL in his left leg, Vernon’s Michael Hails simply needed his coach Joey Ewing’s trust.
The Comox Glacier Kings were going south until Hails showed up ready to play in October. The Kings brought in new players, Ewing put Hails in net and the wins followed.
Hails went 19-6 with a 2.28 goals against average. three shutouts and a sizzling .931 save percentage to earn the Ray’s Sports Centre Top Goalie Award. The Kings won the North Island Division of the nine-team Vancouver Island Junior (B) Hockey League at 31-14-1-2.
“He was unbelievable, really,” said Glacier Kings’ head coach Joey Ewing. “He was definitely MVP of the league. We were lucky to have Mike. We were 3-11 when he came back from injury and then we won 23 games and lost two or three.”
A 6-foot, 195-pound fan of St. Louis Blues’ net detective Ryan Miller, Hails went 4-4 in the playoffs as the Glacier Kings swept the Saanich Braves and lost Game 7 of the league semifinal series 4-3 to the Peninsula Panthers.
Cole Glover of the Panthers scored in the second overtime on a scramble after Hails had made a series of huge saves on the play before 725 fans in Comox.
Hails, 19, said he had more fun in his second season in Comox Valley. He was 7-6 last year with a 2.94 GAA and .891 save percentage.
“Coming into the season, I was a huge question mark as to how I would recover and I had something to prove to people. I tried to keep my highs and lows even and just have fun. I favoured it (injury) a little bit at the start of the season. I won MVP from the league and my team so it was nice to be congratulated.”
Hails said the Glacier Kings began the year with six returnees and ended with four after trading for some older veterans.
“We had a pretty young team and a pretty good dee. I’m vocal out there. I told them not to screen me, and to make sure that puck doesn’t get through.”
Ewing said Hails pretty much practises his craft 24-7, so much so, Ewing had to shut him down.,
“He’s a star, a great kid and I haven’t seen anyone with a higher work ethic. I had to ban him from going to the gym. He’s a leader; he’s always making sure the boys don’t get into trouble.”
Hails took one Kirby’s Source For Sports Player of the Week honour en route to his MVP season. Hails enjoyed a real Halloween night treat with a 3-0 shutout in Nanaimo versus the Buccaneers, making 36 saves.
The next night, he recorded 30 stops and allowed two goals in a win over Saanich.
He trains with Vernon’s Sam Mowat in the offseason and will attend BCHL camps in Nanaimo (April) and Salmon Arm (May).
“I wanna move up a level and I’d really like to get my education through a hockey scholarship’” said the soft-spoken Hails.
Ewing has spread the word on his MVP and doesn’t want him back in Comox.
“I really hope someone in Junior A gives him a chance. He’s probably an above average goalie in the BCHL if he doesn’t get hurt. Even if you want him as a back-up, you’re getting a guy who will never let in a bad goal.”
Born in Chilliwack, Hails started minor hockey in Salmon Arm and finished in Vernon with Jim Armstrong’s Tier 1 Midgets.
He was the fastest player on his team, playing defence as a tyke. It was after a game at the Sunwave Centre when he asked his father, Dave, if he could play goal, mainly because “you never come off the ice.”