Four years ago a 16-year-old Markus Phillips was meeting Attack GM Dale DeGray for the first time.
The Attack’s teenage first-round pick wanted to get down to the business. He asked DeGray how the team’s management saw him fitting into a squad with six or seven returning defenceman.
“I mean, good for him for asking the question,” DeGray laughed on Friday. “Here’s a 16-year-old kid who knew all about the league and the players in it. He’s always been that way.”
Phillips wouldn’t have an issue fitting in with the team. In 228 games he notched 104 points while growing into a National Hockey League prospect and becoming a Canadian national team player in hockey’s premier junior tournament.
Now, as the result of a trade to the Guelph Storm, he’ll have another crack at a championship. It’s something the defender came close to in Owen Sound, but a piece of unfinished business in an otherwise decorated young career.
“Losing to Erie that one year, it could have went either way in that series and unfortunately we had the short end of the stick,” he said. “London and Guelph have the big rivalry, and I feel like it’s anyone’s game in the Western Conference this year.”
The Storm loaded up on Saturday. Phillips will join his Team Canada roommate MacKenzie Entwistle and fellow defenceman Fedor Gordeev as new faces in the ramped up Guelph roster.
“We’ve got some instant chemistry there,” he said. “It’s fitting. I spent four years in this division so I feel like I know it all inside my head.”
Phillips, Nick Suzuki and Maksim Sushko were recognized before the Attack and Battalion game Saturday night at the Bayshore. It served as an opportunity for Attack fans to say goodbye and good luck.
“I’ll miss the small town feeling. You walk into the grocery store and everyone knows you by name. What a place to play junior hockey. I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” he said.