The highest praise Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth head coach Chad Foye could heap on senior Cam Wilson had nothing to do with goals, assists, face-off wins, or any of the dozens of intangibles Wilson brought to the team this season.

Foye instead turned his praise to the impact Cony felt when Wilson wasn’t on the ice.

“Honestly, the best way I know how to say it is that we were a much better team when he was on the ice than when he wasn’t,” Foye said. “We tried to get him on the ice as much as we could.”

A finalist for the Travis Roy Award, given to the best Class A player in the state, Wilson helped lead Cony to the regional semifinals. For his efforts this season, Wilson is the Kennebec Journal Hockey Player of the Year.

Gardiner senior goaltender Michael Poirier and Cony junior Avery Pomerleau were also considered.

Wilson is nothing if not versatile.

To wit: As a junior, he earned All-State recognition as a defenseman. Throughout his hockey career, at virtually ever level, Wilson has played forward and defense.

Though Foye never wavered in his decision to take Wilson off the Rams’ blue line, Wilson was naturally unsure of stepping into a top-line center role. A conversation he had prior to the season helped set his mind at ease.

“I had this talk with some of my coaches, trying to figure out what kind of player I have to be going forward,” said Wilson, who also plays for the Maine Moose. “I remember saying, ‘I don’t know if I’m a defenseman, a wing or a center.’ And everybody was like, ‘You’re a power forward.’ Your job is to make your presence felt.”

That’s exactly what Wilson did. He finished with 14 goals and 11 assists (25 points) in the regular season, good for 10th overall in Class A North in scoring. He added a goal in each of the Rams’ two playoff contests.

But, like most good players, it was often what wasn’t on the scoresheet that was more valuable. Cony won 17 of 22 faceoffs in the third period of a quarterfinal win over Edward Little, with Wilson on the ice for the bulk of those draws, especially in the defensive zone.

“The steady play was the biggest thing with him,” Foye said. “He’s someone that was comfortable carrying the puck and he made smart decisions, put the team first. The other big thing, I thought that he played better this year at both ends of the ice. He was a really seasoned, much stronger backchecker. He was much better in our defensive zone and still really effective in the offensive zone, too.

“His understanding of the game really separates him.”

Wilson, a member of the National Honors Society and vice president of Cony’s Class of 2017, is a natural leader. It’s something he never felt like he had to force in the Rams’ dressing room.

“I think it’s hard to teach that,” said Wilson, who is leaning heavily toward a prep year at Kents Hill School after graduation. “You either have it or you don’t. I think it helped a lot that I’ve always been someone that’s tried to lead by effort.”

Wilson also takes pride in the little things, the parts of the hockey culture that not everyone enjoys. Beyond playing in games, Wilson welcomed every day in practice, whether it was to improve his work in the faceoff circle or simple, one-on-one battle drills.

Even the conditioning work was just fine by him.

“I can’t remember which game it was, but it was a game that we lost that we shouldn’t have,” Wilson recalled. “Coach told us that we weren’t even going to touch any pucks the next day, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is the moment where the younger guys are going to figure out whether they really want this for themselves.

“By the end of that practice, I remember looking at some of the freshmen and sophomores, and they were smiling right through it. I thought then that we were going to be OK.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC