In his third year in the OHL, Cam Hillis is striving for excellence, a contribution he made last season when the Guelph Storm won the Robertson Cup. Coming off of the championship victory, Hillis entered his third season last month and in 14 games, is not disappointing with five goals scored and 15 assists.
To top off the whirlwind season that the Guelph Storm centreman experienced, Cam Hillis was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the draft’s third round back in 2018. While Hillis did not display the breakout numbers he did in his first season, he managed to go 66th overall and has fit in nicely in more ways than one since.
As well, Cam Hillis was given a unique experience for the first time last winter to take part in the World Juniors Championship that took place in Vancouver and Victoria. This allowed the Oshawa native his first real chance to compete on the big stage as he not only played in front of several sellouts, but these games were also being broadcasted across the country on TSN.
With this in mind, after a solid performance so far this season, Cam Hillis, once again on Thursday, was given an opportunity he couldn’t pass up as he was named to the roster for Team OHL at the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series. The only difference between the two contests is that this time, it’s only two games, however, it’s also being broadcasted nationally on Sportsnet One, TVA Sports and NHL Network.
With his selection to the roster, Hillis became one of 62 NHL prospects at the showcase and jumped right in during morning practice to find that chemistry and click with his teammates. With the game at 7:00pm, both teams only had one hour each which meant that finding their comfort levels early would be a crucial necessity for game time.
As puck drop rolled around, it was an event for the ages in Kitchener, Ontario as The Aud filled up with 7,300 people to watch the next generation take the ice and compete. Speaking of which, Hillis took the ice alongside some next level OHL talent as Quinton Byfield made a name for himself, just one of many promising players taking part in the two-game series.
Going into the game on Thursday, Hillis entered with a level-headed mindset, telling The Puck Authority with regards to practice and how he felt coming off of the ice, “Good, I’m just treating it like any other game, not gonna change too much obviously. It’s just another game, so it’s just gonna be fun tonight.”
When asked about his excitement about being drafted by the Canadiens last year, the 5’11 Canadian told The Puck Authority, “Yeah, it’s a huge honour. I mean, it feels like a long time ago that I was drafted by Montreal and very grateful for that opportunity. I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
Hillis, a right-handed shooter, was a last minute addition for the game on Thursday as he was brought in to replace Ryan Suzuki who was scratched from Team Canada’s roster after suffering an injury. Suzuki, however, was not the only player unable to compete as Rangers goaltender Jacob Ingham was replaced by Canadian goaltender and Storm teammate Nico Daws.
Daws got the start on Thursday until he was pulled midway through the second at The Auditorium. At this point in the game, Team OHL was up 3-0 as Cedrick Andree hit the ice in his replacement while Quinton Byfield had recorded a pair of assists. Speaking of the centreman who is projected to go second overall, Cam Hillis said when asked about the skill that Byfield provides and his excitement to play with him, “Yeah, there’s a lot of special players in that room over there, so we’re all pretty good friends, we all played against each other growing up and playing with each other, so he’s a pretty good player over there and he’s had a good start to the season, so I’m excited to see what he does tonight too.”
At this time, Cam Hillis is sitting in second place in Guelph Storm team scoring with 20 points recorded over 14 games, a record he is looking now to tie or even break. Hillis, 19-years-old, is coming off of a shortened season that saw him record only 22 points in 33 games before calling it quits. This of course due to numerous bouts of lower-body injuries that held him out of commission for weeks at a time.
Prior to being selected by the Montreal Canadiens last spring, Hillis, who is a native of Enniskillen, Ontario, took part in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Guelph. This was his first prospects showcase, one he took part in while representing Team Cherry at the arena he is able to call home. Hillis, a former OHL Cup champion, was selected by Guelph in the second round (29th overall) in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.
While Hillis walked out empty handed after sixty minutes on Thursday night in Kitchener, he had another shot to wow on Friday as the defending league champions paid a visit to the Canada Russia Series host Rangers.
During the Friday night visit, Hillis made up for his lack of performance as he ended the night with four points, giving himself 24 in 15 games on the season. This would include three goals as well as an assist en route to the victory.
Prior to Tuesday’s game when asked about his performance and where he’s looking to take it, Hillis told The Puck Authority, “Yeah, I’m just trying to, you know, well-round my whole game here, work on my defensive aspects, kind of just mold my whole game, so I think I’m doing a good job with that so far.”
As Hillis’ stock continues to rise, the only direction for him from here is up and he will look to maintain this moving forward as he heads to London, Ontario for game two on Monday night at Budweiser Gardens. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pmET and the game can be seen on Sportsnet One, CHL Live and TVA Sports. In addition to that, it will be carried on NHL Network in the United States.
To hear the interview in full, the audio from Thursday morning’s media availability at The Aud can be found using the link attached below: