Smith taken in junior hockey league draft

Trevor Smith led the MVCHA this winter with a 1.77 goals against average and .925 save percentage for the Freeburg-Waterloo Raging Bulldogs. (Corey Saathoff photo)

Freeburg-Waterloo Raging Bulldogs goalie Trevor Smith, a junior at Waterloo High School, was drafted last Wednesday evening in the eighth round of the North American 3 Hockey League by the Peoria Mustangs.

The NA3HL is one of six USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III junior leagues, serving as one of the top ice hockey training grounds for student-athletes.

The Mustangs compete in the Central Division along with such teams as the St. Louis Junior Blues.

Smith led the MVCHA this winter with a 1.77 goals against average and .925 save percentage.

He recently played on a team of other top MVCHA players, including Sean and Ryan Hofstetter, Trey Walton and Cam Nowak of the league champion Columbia Ice Eagles, in the 2018 America’s Showcase, which offers premier high school players an opportunity to be scouted by high-level programs.

This team advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating North Dakota, San Diego and Utah before falling to Pittsburgh in the quarterfinal round.

“I was extremely proud of our team,” Smith said of the showcase. “A lot of people had low expectations for us, but the team proved all of those people wrong.”

Smith has also played for the U18 STL AAA Prospects in Affton, Mo.

“Trevor was by far the best goalie in our league and a major reason for our success,” Raging Bulldogs head coach Scott Roberts said. “Trevor was the hardest working and most dedicated player on the team. He works as hard as he can every second he is on the ice, regardless if it is a game or practice.

“As his coach, I couldn’t be more proud of him and even though this means we won’t have Trevor in net for us next season, I wish him nothing but the best and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Smith said it was hard to put into words how it felt to see his name on the draft board.

“So many thoughts and emotions were running through my mind at that moment,” he said. “If there was one word that could sum up everything, it is ‘fortunate.’ I was fortunate enough to have amazing friends who have been supporting me throughout my hockey career; to have such amazing coaches who keep developing my skills every year; most importantly, I am so fortunate to have a family who has been supporting me throughout this whole journey. They have given up a lot so that I am able to chase my dream, and I am doing my best to make sure that it was all worth it.” 

Smith has been playing hockey for 11 years after first being drawn to the sport while watching a high school hockey game at age 6.

“During that game I started to develop a love for the sport,” he said. “On the way home from the game, I told my dad I wanted to play hockey. In the next few weeks or so, my dad signed me up for learn to skate classes.”

What started Smith’s career as a goalie was participation in a three-on-three game.

“(I) walked in the building and the coach came up to me and said they needed a goalie and were wondering if I would be able to play goalie for them,” Smith recalls. “I was a little under the weather that day, so my dad and I decided it would be OK for me to play goalie. Went on the ice and recorded a shutout. From that moment on, I have been trying to get better and better every time I step on the ice.”

Smith, whose favorite National Hockey League goaltender is Marc-Andre Fleury of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, said hockey has completely changed his life.

“Hockey isn’t just a part of my life; it is my life,” he said. “Every time I go to an ice rink, it acts like a great escape. Everything from school, friends, or whatever goes out the window. The only thing that matters to me when I am in a rink is hockey. 

“When I hit that ice, the lights go out and I flip a switch. I am dialed in and try to do whatever it takes to keep that puck out of the net.”

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