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OBHA Member Wins Belleville’s Athlete of the Year

Tuesday, 05 May, 2015 17:23
OBHA Member Wins Belleville’s Athlete of the Year

Growing up in Belleville, Kevin Bailie always thought it would be cool to win the city's Athlete of the Year award. Mission Accomplished.

Tuesday night at the Sports Centre, the 23-year-old Queen's Golden Gaels varsity men's hockey goaltender will receive the Robinson-Kelleher Memorial Award as Belleville's Athlete of the Year for 2014.

The presentation is part of the city's annual Honours and Awards Night, with individuals and teams from Belleville receiving recognition for outstanding athletic achievement on the provincial, national and/or international stage in 2014.

Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. in the second-floor multi-purpose room.

“I remember seeing the award when I was younger at the Honours and Awards Night,” said Bailie. “Winning it was always a goal of mine and I was nominated for it a couple of times before. To win it now is a great honour.   “I'm really happy about it.” and the Queen's coaching staff were really happy about the impact Bailie made on their program in his freshman OUA season in 2013-14.

The six-foot-three puckstopper and former first-round OHL draft pick (Oshawa Generals) backstopped Queen's to its first national ranking since 1983 and became the first-ever Golden Gael to capture the Clare Drake Award as CIS Rookie of the Year.

Bailie's numbers — a microscopic 1.98 GAA, .934 save percentage and two shutouts in 20 games — earned him a mantle full of OUA East awards: MVP, Top Goalie, Rookie of the Year, First Team All-Star and All-Rookie Team selection. Working toward a degree in law, Bailie was no slouch in the classroom either, earning CIS All-Academic status.

After wrapping up his junior career with an overage playoff run in PEI with the RBC Cup host Summerside Western Capitals, Bailie was heavily recruited by CIS schools. He chose Queen's over some perennial CIS powerhouse programs.

“Queen's was an obvious choice for the academics and proximity to Belleville,” said Bailie. “The coaches there also told me I could go to an already strong program or go to Queen's and help build a contender. You could look back and say you put your stamp on it, you were part of the process of a team on the rise.”

Starting with their first national ranking in more than 30 years, Bailie believes Queen's can now play with the big boys of CIS hockey.

“Our recruiting class was strong and we had a good first year together,” he said. “We're getting closer and closer to that top level.”

Bailie — who also played in the OHL for the London Knights — is one of hundreds of former Canadian Hockey League players who've taken advantage of the CHL's education package, graduating from junior hockey to study and play in the CIS. Especially for the strongest teams in the CIS, rosters are almost entirely composed of CHL grads — like Bailie.

“I'm surprised CIS hockey doesn't get more publicity and respect,” he said. “When I was playing in the OHL, some people viewed it as a step down. But it's actually an extension of the CHL. It's faster, more physical and you're competing against guys in their 20s.

“The only difference is you don't have those X-factor guys. The guys who go from junior to the NHL.”

For now, Bailie has put pro aspirations on hold, but it's something he'd like to investigate in the future. Following his 2014-15 sophomore season (he was named Queen's MVP), Bailie is studying hard and working on improving his game.

“I'm a fairly big guy and with experience I've learned to play positionally and situationally better — that's probably my strongest point,” said Bailie. “But I think that's the case for most goalies as they get older and more experienced. I'm working on my glove a lot, because you see the Europeans coming into the NHL and that's where they're really strong.”

Bailie said playing summer ball hockey in Belleville, member of the Ontario Ball Hockey Association was an ideal training ground for his career on ice.  “Guys like me and Andrew Shaw, we played ball hockey every summer and I think that helped me a lot with my athleticism and movement,” he said.   Kevin was also selected to represent Canada later this month as a member of the National Ball Hockey Association of Canada competing at the World Ball Hockey Federation Championships in Pittsburgh.

Bailie is the 30th recipient of the Robinson-Kelleher Memorial Award since its reinstatement in 1985 by the late Al Kelleher.

Bailie also becomes the second hockey goaltender to receive the city's highest athletic honour. Former Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins netminder Andrew Raycroft was Belleville's Athlete of the Year in 2000.

Winners of the Robinson-Kelleher Memorial Award as Belleville's Athlete of the Year are chosen by a selection committee panel composed of members of the Belleville sports media and the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame executive.

 

Tags: Ontario

Ontario Province

Ontario

Asociation: Ontario Ball Hockey Association

Address: 5-56 Pennsylvania Avenue Concord, Ontario, L4K 3V9

Links: www.ontarioballhockey.ca

Year founded: 1974

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