Alex Micallef is cerebral on and off the ice.
The P.E.I. Rocket defenceman from Fort Erie, Ont. is a smart, reliable blue-liner and a top student in the classroom.
He traditionally logs big minutes against the opposition’s top offensive threats and has been his team’s representative each of the past two years for the Marcel-Robert Trophy, which recognizes the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s scholastic player of the year.
“Every boys dream is to play in the NHL, but then you realize it is a tough road to go down,” Micallef said. “My goal is to get a good education and . . . when my career is over I can always have something to fall back on.”
Micallef’s average is 86 while working on the second year of his four-year kinesiology degree at UPEI.
“My parents always put an emphasis on school,” Micallef said before Tuesday’s practice. “The Q does have nice programs and I’ve been able to take full advantage of that.”
He is also proof that hard works and perseverance pays off.
He grew up in southern Ontario with a goal of playing major junior hockey.
“I was never picked up in the OHL just because of my size,” he explained.
Micallef played junior A and B in Ontario and continued to workout.
“What helped me with my size issue was being in the gym,” said the six-foot, 200-pound blue-liner. “I look at it as more of a hobby rather than just training and work.”
He caught the attention of the Montreal Juniors and signed with them for the 2010-11 season. The team changed owners the following year and became the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
When the Rocket went looking for an experienced veteran to add to its young back end, Micallef was targeted. The Rocket sent second- and sixth-round picks in the 2013 draft to the Armada to complete the transaction during the summer.
He was initially a “little nervous” about joining a last-place team, but quickly saw the potential the team had and the opportunities of going to school at UPEI.
“I am glad I am where I am now and I love Prince Edward Island,” he said. “It just goes with the saying, ‘As one door closes, another door opens.’
The Rocket is glad to have him.
“He’s played excellent for us all season long,” said coach Gordie Dwyer. “He’s a great veteran and a great example for our younger guys. . .
“He’s been everything we expected and then some.”
His teammates consider him among the strongest players on the squad.
Micallef is a physical defenceamn accustomed to separating the opposition from the puck with clean hits.
“When it’s there I take it,” he said, “but I don’t go out looking for the big open-ice hit.”
Micallef has played with a variety of partners on the Rocket blue-line, including Jimmy Oligny, Troy Vance and Tomas Pavelka.
“He’s a guy we feel we can matchup with anybody,” Dwyer said.
“He’s just a steady performer. He’s not a real flashy guy, but as a defenceman that’s not a bad thing.”
The Rocket (35-23-3-1) is in Saint John tonight to play the Sea Dogs (22-39-1) at 7 p.m.
Jack Nevins will serve his one-game suspension he received during Saturday’s game at Rouyn-Noranda. Louick Marcotte remains day-to-day with an upper body injury sustained Feb. 24 against Cape Breton. Although he has not played since, Marcotte skated with the team Tuesday.
P.E.I. is in Cape Breton Friday before finishing the last four games of the regular season at home.
Who – P.E.I. Rocket defenceman
Hometown – Fort Erie, Ont.
Age – 20
Did you know – Micallef’s older brother Myles played part of two seasons as a Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defenceman.
Quote – "I’ve always been brought up as a hard worker and that’s never changed.”
Season Team GP G A Pts
2012-13 P.E.I. 61 12 22 34
2011-12 Blainville-Boisbriand 55 13 24 37
2010-11 Montreal 41 2 7 9