You’re twenty years old. You have been invited to visit a top level NCAA school with the chances of pursuing a career in hockey while getting an incredible education at the same time. It’s the opportunity of a life time. On the way, you see a car accident. You stop to make sure everything is fine, only to see an innocent man just seconds away from his demise.
According to the Ontario Junior Hockey League, a high level Junior A league with teams ranging from Buffalo, New York to Cobourg, Ontario, Toronto Lakeshore Patriots forward Kevin Shier was one of five men who saved the life of New York State National Guardsman Timothy Neild, who’s car was involved in an accident. With the car set ablaze, the five heroes quickly removed Neild from the car, only for the vehicle to explode thirty seconds later.
“It all happened so quickly,” Shier told the OJHL in an interview. “It really felt like a dream. All I kept remembering afterward was that a guy was giving him CPR and was yelling at him not to (expletive) die, telling him that he had done too much for his country to go like this. That guy really kept him alive because he was as white as a sheet and personally, I thought he had already passed. It really shook me.”
His incredible heroism, which earned him the OJHL’s Humanitarian Award as a result of the incredible action, wasn’t the only thing that stood out for Shier. While playing with the eventual league champions, the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots, Shier finished third in scoring with the club this season, recording 54 points in 46 regular season games played. Shier was dominant throughout the Patriots’ 2013-14 OJHL playoff run, leading the playoffs in scoring with 24 assists and 32 points in 19 games played. His play when it mattered most wouldn’t go unnoticed, as the league named him the 2013-14 winner of the Brent Ladds Trophy as the Playoff Most Valuable Player after his team won the OJHL championships. To top it all off, Shier finished tied for sixth in scoring at the recent Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge held in Terrebonne, Quebec before eventually committing to Union College for the upcoming NCAA campaign.
If you followed Junior A hockey in Canada this year, there is a good chance you got to see him. Playing in nearly 75 games in two countries and three provinces, Shier’s speed and ability to be in the right place at the right time definitely caught the eye of many during the 2013-2014 campaign. Considered to be a gifted offensive player, Shier’s best attribute has to be his quick and accurate shot. Even so, he still has a tendency to deke around an opponent before dishing it off to one of his line mates, creating superb offensive opportunities while on the attack.
This isn’t to say Shier’s play goes without faults, however. While he does have solid positioning, he will need to learn how to handle defensive responsibilities more efficiently, especially when the game is on the line. As well, Shier showed at times that he just wasn’t fully in tune with the game, including at some games during the OJHL league finals when his team needed him the most. Regardless, his overall skill and offensive ability has warranted great success in his early career, and will only continue to improve in the future with a high quality team like Union.
Shier will be in good company when he suits up for Union this season. Joining fellow OJHLer’s Mark Bennett (Oakville Blades) and Daniel Ciampini (St. Mike’s Buzzers), as well as Philadelphia Flyers prospect Shayne Gostisbehere, Union College is hoping Shier can contribute in their quest to repeat as NCAA Frozen Four champions during the 2014-2015 campaign. Showing improvement from his first full season in the OJHL that saw him record 34 points with the Aurora Tigers back in 2011-2012, Shier shouldn’t slow down from his tremendous pace that launched him into Junior A stardom last season.
Steven is a junior hockey reporter for the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and also focuses on international hockey for his website, TheHockeyHouse.net. You can follow Steven on twitter,@StevenEllisNHL.
Photo credit – Tim Bates/OJHL Images