MELVILLE — Noah Wills is certainly doing a great job of carrying on his family’s legacy with the Melville Millionaires.
The Swift Current product is the nephew of former Millionaires Tim and Brian Hack. As of Monday, Wills was second in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in scoring with 12 points over six games.
“It is an honour and privilege to play for the organization that my uncles played for. They were both tremendous hockey players and are amazing people, so it is special to follow in their footsteps,” said Wills, who noted that his Uncle Brian lent him an authentic Millionaires onesie and that he has heard some stories of his uncles’ days with the team.
A 19-year-old forward, Wills believes he can make some memories himself with his Millionaires teammates this season.
“We have a special group in Melville this year,” he said. “Everyone is goal oriented, and we all have bought into the team. We all want to win and all of us play for the logo on the front and our brothers on the team.”
As of Monday, Melville had a 2-3-1-0 record. Including the overtime loss, four of the squad’s six games were decided by a goal. The Millionaires have played in overtime twice so far this season – with one of those contests ending up a Melville win in a shootout. What has impressed head coach Mike Rooney most about his group so far?
“We feel we have our team to where we’re capable of playing at a high-level pace,” he said. “We have a good group of skaters with good sense that can push pace and a little more tenacity this year.”
Last season the 5-foot-8.7, 156-pound Wills paced the Millionaires with 23 goals, 27 assists, and 50 points in 52 games. Early on this campaign, as of Monday, he had scored four goals and was averaging two points a game.
“There have been a few factors that have enabled me to put up points this far,” Wills said. “My linemates – the guys I play with, how we gel together, and their ability to score and make plays, has enabled me to score more and get assists as well.
“My offseason – I had a good offseason on the ice and in the gym which allowed me to get stronger and hone my skills which has led to growth in my game and an uptick of offensive production.”
Rooney describes Wills as a “blend of a playmaker that can shoot.”
“He’s really developed a shot,” the coach said. “He’s a double threat that way. That’s certainly a key to some of his success on the pure offensive side of his game.”
Wills is now in his third season with the Millionaires. Rooney has witnessed the forward’s improvement at both ends of the ice.
“As he’s matured, he’s getting better as far as his whole 200-foot game,” the coach said. “He’s a really good penalty killer, really good player that can be a threat in those situations.”
Rooney describes Wills as being team first. He noted the player is someone who gets along well with and is well liked by his teammates.
“He works really hard in all aspects,” Rooney said. “He’s very serious about his hockey. Very serious about his academics. He wants to be successful as an individual and as a team.”
Wills hopes to pursue both hockey and academics at the next level. He completed Grade 12 with a 98 per cent average. While not 100 per cent certain on what he would like to study, Wills is interested in business and possibly going into law in the future.