Bittersweet end to Jordan Hill’s season

Sarnia’s Jordan Hill blocks a shot for the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League. Photo courtesy, Colin Peddle and the St. John’s IceCaps

The last few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster for Sarnia’s Jordan Hill.

First, he watched with excitement as a handful of former teammates hoisted the Stanley Cup as members of the Los Angeles Kings. Then his current team, the St. John’s IceCaps, lost the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup final to the Texas Stars.

“That was really cool,” said Hill, 25, when asked what it was like to witness a handful of former teammates with the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings top farm club, skate around with Lord Stanley’s Cup after disposing of the New York Rangers in five games.

Hill played the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons in the Kings organization alongside overtime hero Alec Martinez, Tyler Toffoli, Jake Muzzin, Dwight King, Vyachaslav Voynov, Jordan Nolan and Martin Jones.

“It was pretty special to see,” said Hill, admitting to some jealously as he watched them celebrate an NHL championship.

Then came the ex-Sting rearguard’s chance to capture his own championship in the American Hockey League. But the Stars prevailed in five games, winning the final three in overtime.

“It was a hard-fought series,” said Hill.  “We had our chances but just couldn’t capitalize when we had to.”

Coming that far but not reaching the pinnacle will sting for some time, he said.

“It has been a tough pill to swallow.”

Hill enjoyed his time playing in St. John’s and hopes to return next season.  As of presstime, his agent was in negotiations on a new contract with the IceCaps.

Despite some bleak weather and a hectic travel schedule, the 6’2”, 195-pound blueliner said his first season on The Rock was “an awesome experience.”

But as much as he enjoys Newfoundland Hill doesn’t want St. John’s to be his final hockey destination. He has higher aspirations.

Hill, who registered 12 assists in 68 regular season games and two goals and 18 helpers in the postseason still hopes to crack an NHL lineup.

“I’ve always considered myself a late bloomer,” he said.  “I was (a late bloomer) in the OHL, so I still hope to play in the National Hockey League.”

Hill has returned to Sarnia for the summer where he’ll train for the upcoming season and host his annual hockey school in early August at the RBC Centre.

“I like to give back to the younger players,” he said.

– Barry Wright