LEWISTON, Maine — From playing his first two seasons in Class B to suffering a severe cut on his leg less than two months ago, Parker Sanderson was, at times, an unlikely candidate to win high school hockey’s Travis Roy Award.
For everything else he accomplished on the ice, in the classroom and in two communities, however, the Bangor High School forward was an obvious choice for the trophy, presented by the Class A coaches’ association each year to the state’s outstanding senior player.
Sanderson accepted the award Sunday afternoon during the annual awards banquet at Ramada Inn.
Saint Dominic Academy goaltender Grant Carrier was a finalist along with Cheverus forward Cameron McLain and Scarborough defenseman Nick Bagley.
“The group of guys that were in it this year are tremendous people, and to win it is absolutely amazing and astonishing,” Sanderson said. “I just can’t be thankful enough. If they could only give away four awards, which they should have this year, I would be totally for it.”
Sanderson led Bangor with 25 goals and 26 assists, punctuated by two assists and the game-winning goal in a 3-2, double-overtime victory over St. Dom’s in the Eastern Class A semifinals.
Merely participating in the playoffs was a question after Sanderson sustained the leg injury at Auburn’s Ingersoll Arena in a game against Gray-New Gloucester/Poland on Feb. 6. He missed the end of that game and three more prior to his return.
In his speech, Sanderson thanked his parents, Chuck and Debbie, for “their financial support in paying for the occasional ambulance ride.”
He also noted that both his parents and sister Vanessa, who plays basketball at Husson University, achieved their athletic acclaim on the hardwood.
“I wonder what you thought when I said I wanted to play hockey, with gear that always stunk up the vehicle during those long rides,” Sanderson said. “I knew you appreciated the game when you dedicated a whole room to the sport. Well, to the stinky gear, that is.”
Because the Travis Roy Award is limited to Class A players, Sanderson wouldn’t have been eligible for it had his family not moved from Houlton after his sophomore year.
He thanked Houlton/Hodgdon coaches Joel Trickey and Mitch Holmes as well as Bangor mentors Denis Collins and Quinn Paradis for helping to hone his skills.
“They taught me a lot over the years, and to come down and make a successful transition from B to A is truly amazing,” Sanderson said. “It was pretty hard, just because I went from a little school and a little town to a big town.”
Roy’s paralyzing injury only 11 seconds into his first shift as a player at Boston University happened when this year’s nominees were not yet a year old.
All four finalists kept with the tradition of acknowledging Roy and his influence on their lives in their brief speeches.
“This award is just amazing to me because Travis Roy is such an inspiration. I can’t even fathom the words,” Sanderson said.
Carrier went to the greatest lengths to personalize Roy’s impact. He began his speech by draping an inside-out youth hockey jersey, bearing the name “Roy” and the number 14 scrawled in black magic marker and filled by a pink highlighter pen, over the front of the lectern.
He explained that it was a prop from a book report in fourth grade. Students were required to read a book, then attend a tea party in which they would dress and act like its main character or author. Carrier chose Roy and his autobiography, “Eleven Seconds.”
“I showed up at school that day in a wheelchair, wearing this very jersey,” Carrier said. “Who would have known eight years later I would be standing up here nominated for an award inspired by him?”
Carrier, who stopped 93 percent of the shots he faced and posted three shutouts as a senior, chose to attend St. Dom’s starting in ninth grade instead of his hometown Falmouth High School, which won its first Class A title this season.
He congratulated the Yachtsmen, many of whom are longtime friends and former teammates. He also recognized his parents for their support of his decision.
“For those who don’t know, St. Dom’s tuition is not chump change, no matter who you are, and a set of new goalie equipment can be equal to the price of a used car,” Carrier said.
Lewiston goaltender Evan Bourassa was one of eight semifinalists for the Roy Award, which has been awarded each year since 1996.
Sanderson is the first winner from Bangor and its fifth finalist, including three in the past four years. Carrier was bidding to become the fifth St. Dom’s recipient.