• Local goalie joins elite company

  • When Dalyn Hillman received a call about her son Corbin late in the spring, she didn’t know what to think.

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  • When Dalyn Hillman received a call about her son Corbin late in the spring, she didn’t know what to think.
    “We got a call from an elite team in Minnesota that was interested in Corbin trying out as a goalkeeper,” said her husband, Scott, the coach of the Central Hockey League’s Missouri Mavericks. “I was in Fort Wayne (with the Mavericks) and she had 24 hours notice, so she packed Corby and (his younger brother) Guhnar and the family dog into the car and off they went to Bloomington.”
    When the family arrived, they discovered that a Jr. Mavericks coach had told the Minnesota team about Corbin’s ability in the net. The Hillmans were surprised to find out that a total of eight goaltenders were trying out for the Minnesota Blades, one of 14 teams across North America that was invited to the 23rd annual Brick Super Novice Hockey Tournament in Edmonton.
    “A team could have three import players (players who lived outside of Minnesota),” Scott Hillman explained, “and they had a goaltender from Boston trying out and a couple of other players from Wisconsin, so Corby was going against the kid from Boston and six other goaltenders to secure the third import spot. And boy, was he up for the challenge.”
    Not only did Corbin make the elite team, he was named first-team all star and the MVP of The Brick, the most prestigious 10-year-old youth hockey tournament in North America.
    “It’s only for 10-year-olds, and it’s comparable to going to the Little League World Series here in the States,” Hillman said. “I knew Corby was good – even though I don’t get to watch him play as much as I would like – but I didn’t know how good he was until I saw him play in The Brick. He was getting a lot of attention.”
    Corbin produced three shutouts in five games with a goals-against average of 0.60 and .969 save percentage. “And he’s playing against the top kids of his age in the world,” Hillman said.
    As Hillman talked about Corbin, the 10-year-old goalie walked into the Mavericks locker room carrying four trophies and his most cherished award from The Brick – a game-used Sidney Crosby hockey stick that bears a metal plate honoring Corbin’s accomplishments and a bold signature of Crosby, who many consider to be the best player in the NHL.
    Corbin won three trophies for his play in the net and a larger trophy to signify that he was the tournament MVP.
    However, he didn’t return home with his Team Minnesota jersey, as it is tradition to exchange jerseys with opponents after the final game.
    “I traded my green jersey, because I’m getting another one,” Corbin said. “You have to trade your jersey – and I’m OK with that – but I really wanted to keep that jersey.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Hillman was quick to add, “Luckily, a generous donation to the team allowed the kids to get a third jersey to keep for themselves so they could trade both of their game jerseys instead of trading one & keeping one.”
    As he glanced at his Crosby stick and trophies, Corbin grinned and said, “I’m happy I got all this stuff – but I’d have rather had a (Buffalo goaltender) Ryan Miller stick.”
    That comment brought laughter from Scott, who jokingly said, “Then we’ll just put this on eBay.”
    Corbin shook his head no, and clutched the stick close to his chest.
    Many former NHL greats have played in The Brick, and Hillman said three Mavericks had also participated in the prestigious event when they were young.
    “Gerry (Festa), Chezzy (Dave Pszenyczny) and Tristin Llewellyn all played in The Brick,” Hillman said, “and Gerry worked a lot with Corby when he was with the team. You watch Corby play and you can see a lot of Gerry’s style and influence.”
    Now that he’s back in Lee’s Summit, the Chapel Lakes Elementary School fourth grader is back in goal for his Russell Stovers AAA PeeWee team.
    “I wish I could tell you how much I love to play goalie,” Corbin said. “It’s so much fun to stop the puck.”
    He paused for a moment and added with a devilish grin, “And to whack a player on the back when he skates past the net.”
    Corbin’s future looks bright, and he has big plans for the future.
    When asked if might one day play for the Mavericks he said, matter of factly, “No, I’m playing in the NHL.”

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