The Ontario Junior Hockey League today announced that Kevin Shier of the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots has been named the 2013-14 recipient of the OJHL Humanitarian-of-the-Year Award.
The 20-year old forward currently in his second season with the Patriots (third in the OJHL), not only had his most productive season of his junior hockey career, but an eventful season that would see him commit to an NCAA Division I school and help save another person's life.
What started as a routine NCAA University visit, quickly turned into one the most intense and surreal moments of Kevin Shier's life. Heading across New York State with his father Peter to visit the campus of Union College in Schenectady, New York, the pair made the fateful decision to stop about halfway, in DeWitt, and rest for the night. The following day, they grab breakfast and hit the New York State Thruway for one of the most important visits of the young man's burgeoning hockey career. Almost immediately upon entering the Thruway, the two spotted smoke and came across a burning truck that had hit the overpass. Pulling over, they see people frantically pulling at the driver's door and he immediately begins to sprint across the highway. The door popped open and Shier arrived, patting out flames on the driver's arm and helping pull him from the wreckage and to safety. Seconds after doing so, the dangerous reality begins to set-in as the truck explodes in a fireball.
His life forever changed by a split-second decision, no one would have faulted Shier for turning around and heading home, but he continued on to Union, doing his best to seem as normal as he possibly could. Later that evening while searching the internet, the Toronto, Ontario native was relieved to learn that the driver of the vehicle, Captain Timothy Nield of the New York National Guard's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, was in hospital and expected to live, thanks in large part to a group of civilians and guardsmen that are now deemed heroes. As the story became national news over the coming days and weeks, Shier's collegiate commitment was never in doubt as he was contacted by Union College, who mentioned his character as one of the influencing factors in their decision.
Already this year, Shier was honoured with the State Farm Good Neighbour Award and recognized as such at a Toronto Maple Leafs home game, and he has also been nominated for the U.S. Army Civilian Service Award.
As if saving another human's life isn't enough, Kevin Shier also more than contributes his fair share of community service. From 2009-12, he volunteered his time in a program that assisted the elderly with daily chores such as cleaning or shoveling the driveway. Last year, he participated in a family initiative, along with his parents and brother, of driving around Toronto handing out meals to the homeless.
Playing 'AA' hockey throughout his minor hockey career, Shier made the jump to junior hockey as a member of the Aurora Tigers in 2011-12. After a season and a half in Aurora, he was traded to the Patriots and has become one of the club's veteran leaders, finishing tied for second in scoring on the club in 2013-14 with 21 goals and 54 points in 46 regular season games played. Currently, the club's alternate captain leads the team in scoring with seven points in a four game, first round sweep of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens.
The OJHL Humanitarian of the Year is awarded to the player adjudged to have made the most notable contribution to his community in a humanitarian sense, including, but not limited to charitable work, school visits and extra-curricular off-ice activities.
The Trainer-of-the-Year Award recipient will be announced later this week.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)