LEWISTON — Before he became the 19th recipient of the Travis Roy Award Sunday afternoon, Kyle Lemelin thanked his family, his coaches and his teammates for helping him get into position to be one of four finalists for the prestigious award.
Lemelin also credited hockey with getting him to adopt a philosophy that should help him as he makes his way through life.
“Hockey taught me to set short- and long-term goals,” he said. “It’s taught me to push myself to be the best I can possibly be. The skills I have received will help me to succeed in college and in other places.”
Next fall, Lemelin will attend Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle. NMCC doesn’t have a hockey team.
Presented annually to Maine’s top Class A senior hockey player, the award is named in honor of Travis Roy, a former Yarmouth resident left paralyzed from a spinal cord injury he sustained 11 seconds into his first shift as a Boston University freshman in 1995.
Guest speaker Blaise MacDonald, who recently completed his second season as head coach of the men’s hockey team at Colby College, was able to provide the nearly 400 people at Sunday’s awards banquet with a unique perspective.
MacDonald was on the BU bench serving as an associate head coach when the former North Yarmouth Academy player was injured.
“What happened to Travis was just devastating,” he told the audience, “but you quickly move on to the inspiration that Travis has been able to provide to so many people about his story, about his legacy and about what he wants to leave behind in spinal cord research.”
During his speech, Lemelin said he was inspired by Roy.
“It’s a huge honor to receive this award,” he said. “For the last two or three years, I’ve been watching people (at this banquet) come up and make speeches, and I thought if I was able to get that (award) it would be an amazing accomplishment for me and just the whole Lewiston hockey community.”
Lewiston Coach Jamie Belleau was unable to attend the banquet because he was coaching a youth team made up of players 10 years and under, primarily from the Lewiston-Auburn area, at a regional tournament in Vermont.
During a telephone interview, Belleau said Lemelin was quite deserving of the award.
“He’s always put the team before himself, and I think that’s what all the other coaches liked about him,” he said.
“He worked all the time to become a better hockey player,” the coach added.
“When he came in, he was already a very skilled offensive hockey player. He’s become a very good overall hockey player.”
“My freshman year, we had such a good team that I felt I didn’t have to push myself that hard,” Lemelin said.
“As I grew up and became one of the leaders on the team, I felt a responsibility for how we played and how we presented ourselves as a team.”
Lemelin, who led the Blue Devils in scoring the past two seasons, is the second Lewiston player to receive the award. Goalie Cam Poussard was honored in 2011.
The three other finalists for the award were Bangor’s Justin Courtney, Nik Lemeiux of Biddeford and Thornton Academy’s Alex Fallon.