Hard work pays off for Isaak Phillips as Blackhawks select Barrie native

Tyson Foerster wasn’t the only local player to hear his named called in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft held Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Former Barrie Colts ‘AAA’ minor midget and current Sudbury Wolves defenceman Isaak Phillips also had his dreams come true when the Chicago Blackhawks invited him into the organization. The six-foot-three, 195-pound Barrie native, who was ranked 114th overall on the 2020 NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings among North American skaters, was selected in the fifth round (141st overall) by the Blackhawks.

“Chicago gets a great pick with Isaac,” said Josh Dahmer, who coached Phillips with the Barrie Colts ‘AAA’ minor midgets.

Phillips had nine goals and 26 points in 63 games with the Wolves this past season and was a fourth-round pick (80th overall) in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection.

“He’s a great kid who works hard and is a great player,” Dahmer added.

While he was happy for Foerster and Phillips, Dahmer was disappointed former players James Hardie and Alec Belanger weren’t selected.

Hardie, who led the Mississauga Steelheads with 34 goals in 59 games this past season, took a big step forward in his second season. Dahmer was surprised the Innisfil native got passed over and believes someone is going to get a steal in next year’s draft when they call his name.

“It’s such a sad thing, I can’t imagine what he’s going through right now because I’m sure he expected to get drafted,” the coach said of Hardie. “I hope he sticks with it and he comes out on fire and uses it as a burn inside, because he’s such a good player. He can score in bunches and any team that would have taken him or will take him in the future is going to get a real good player there.”

He also felt for Belanger. With the Ottawa 67’s making a run at the OHL title these last two seasons, it’s been tough for the defenceman to not getting buried in the pecking order for ice time playing on a loaded team.

“As much as it’s probably helped his development, it didn’t help his draft status because he was on such a good team and didn’t get the minutes that he would have got on a Barrie or another team,” Dahmer said. “Somebody is going to take him next year and with the work ethic on that kid, and the way he plays, he’ll make a team very happy.”

Evan Vierling, Foerster’s teammate with the Barrie Colts, is heading to the Big Apple after the New York Rangers selected the 18-year-old with the 127th pick overall in the fifth round. Another player who surprisingly got passed over was Barrie teammate Ethan Cardwell. The scoring winger was ranked 70th overall on the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings.

banner image courtesy Terry Wilson/CHL Images