Boys hockey: Falmouth pair highlight five candidates for Travis Roy Award
Mar. 17—One school will have a 2-in-5 chance when the Travis Roy Award is handed out to the top senior Class A boys hockey player in Maine on Saturday.
Forwards Aaron Higgins and Mitchell Ham were a dynamic duo for Falmouth, racking up 67 and 66 points, respectively, this season. Joining them as finalists are Edward Little's Campbell Cassidy, Thornton Academy's Lucas Hubbard and Biddeford/Old Orchard Beach/Massabesic's Jamie Sperlich.
Recent Travis Roy winners
2022 — Cullen Adams, South Portland
2021 — Owen Drummey, Falmouth
2018 — Theo Hembre, Falmouth
The award has been given out since 1996, when St. Dominic Academy's Brian Toussaint was the first winner. This is the second time there have been five finalists, the other being in 2019 when Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse's Noah Austin won the award.
This year's award will be presented at a ceremony beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn.
Falmouth coach Deron Barton said having two finalists never crossed his mind at the beginning of the season.
"Never in a million years, it was the furthest thing in my mind," Barton said. "I thought we might have one with Mitchell Ham, but never two."
Higgins, who grew up in Lewiston until he was 12, led Class A in goals with 33 and was second in the state behind Carter Walls of John Bapst/Hermon/Bangor Christian/Deer Isle-Stonington, who led Class B with 37 tallies.
Ham led all skaters in the state with 42 assists.
Other coaches felt this was the year to have two finalists from the same school.
"The biggest thing is they fed off each other, and that's where their success was," Bangor coach Quinn Paradis said. "They were tough to stop."
Higgins and Ham become the first players in Class A to reach the 60-point mark since Matt DelGiudice of Messsalonskee and Biddeford's Brian Dumoulin — who currently plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins — surpassed 60 during the 2007-08 season. DelGiudice, a forward, was a Travis Roy Finalist, who racked up 28 goals and 37 assists, while Dumoulin, a defenseman, had 13 goals and 48 assists as a junior.
"You can't deny the numbers that they put up," Biddeford/Massabesic/Old Orchard Beach coach Ethan Bassile said of Ham and Higgins. "It was nice to see Higgins come back and play high school hockey because, again, you want to have the best players from Maine sticking around and playing in our league. It's only better for the league."
Higgins played his freshman season with the Navigators during the 2019-20 season but then joined the Maine Nordiques Academy in Lewiston for the 2020-21 season and the Seacoast Performance Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, last season.
Edward Little has now had a finalist for the third straight year. Cassidy joins Jack Keefe in 2022 and older brother Will Cassidy in 2021 .Edward Little has had two Travis Roy winners: Josh Benson in 2002 and Kyle Smith in 2004.
Campbell led the Red Eddies with 22 goals and 29 assists in 19 games. Edward Little coach Norm Gagne said Campbell's biggest strength was giving his linemates a chance to be successful.
"What was important for him, and I told him that, 'Great players make the players around them better,'" Gagne said. "I think he did that with his two linemates in Peyton Dyer and Andrew Clements. ... In one game (Campbell) had eight assists, and I don't think he even scored but he made the kids around him better. All season long, Peyton and Andrew elevated their game, and I think Campbell had a lot to do with it."
Dyer (30 points) and Clements (28) finished second and third in team scoring.
Sperlich had nine goals and nine assists for the Tigers. His 18 points ranked third on the team.
"The thing that never ceases to amaze me about Jamie is his engine," Bassile said. "He's just capable of playing such big minutes in every single game that we put him out. It's one of many reasons why I nominated him for the award."
Bassile said Sperlich became a complete player this year by blocking shots, carrying the puck, setting up plays and scoring.
Hubbard, of Class A state-champion Thornton, is the lone defenseman out of the five candidates. He scored four goals and recorded 17 assists as the Golden Trojans' top-scoring defenseman.
"If he was in a professional league, you might call him a model pro," Bassile said. "He just seems to be in the right areas at all times, and he gave us a few tough games."
Statistics aren't the only thing considered for the Travis Roy Award. Sportsmanship also is also a part of the criteria for the honor, which is named for the late Travis Roy, who was a standout player at North Yarmouth Academy and became source of inspiration after he was injured 11 seconds into his college career at Boston University.
"People don't realize it is more than the goals you scored, because Travis was not necessarily the top scorer in the league," Gagne said. "He was a good solid hockey player, and he respected the game of hockey. He handled himself well, and he represented his team well. He carried himself well and set a good example for the younger kids who came to watch NYA play when he played there."