Country Day goalie takes home Mr. Hockey award after stellar season

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 9, 2018

 Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day goalie Sam Evola is pictured during the D-3 semifinal. Evola claimed the 2018 Mr. Hockey award.

Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day goalie Sam Evola is pictured during the D-3 semifinal. Evola claimed the 2018 Mr. Hockey award.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


BEVERLY HILLS — The state championship was the cherry on top, the ultimate reward for a season never to forget.

How could things get any better for the Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day hockey team at this point?

Well, how about one of the Yellowjackets’ top players taking home the top individual award?

“It’s awesome, but this is really something earned by our whole team,” Country Day goalie Sam Evola said of winning the 2018 Mr. Hockey award, which is an annual honor chosen by the coaches association. “This really puts our program on the map.”

From start to finish, Country Day was one of the most dominant teams in the state.

The Yellowjackets finished things off with a 2-1 victory over Livonia Churchill March 10 in the Division 3 final at USA Hockey Arena.

In that game, the Shelby Township resident faced 31 shots, turning away all but one of them.

“Pretty amazing, really,” coach Frank Novock said. “We never thought in a million years we’d have anyone win an award like this. Sam was just happy to be a nominee, to be honest.”

But roughly a week before the award was presented to Evola, Novock got word that his star goalie had won.

“It was tough to keep quiet,” Novock laughed, though he was hardly surprised with the news.

Evola hit the ground running when the season started and finished with a 21-2-0 record, a 0.97 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage and seven shutouts.

“He’s a very confident player,” Novock said. “He came into the season in great shape. He’s a kid that works so hard and is wired like a goalie. He’s a kid who doesn’t like to be beat. He’s a perfectionist in the way he works, the way he does the little things every day.”

“Truthfully, I’ve never worked harder than I did last summer,” Evola said. “I have a personal goalie coach, and I knew I had to make the most of every single day. … I still think this had so much to do with our defense, though. The guys played so strong in front of me.”

If what Evola did this year to the opposition wasn’t scary enough, consider the fact that he’s only a junior.

“Growth and maturity are key now, because he can be even better,” Novock said. “He’s not the biggest kid, and he knows he has to overcome the size issue, where goalies are bigger nowadays. But he knows he can get even better. We have a very difficult schedule next year. He’s going to have his work cut out for him. He’ll be pushed and challenged all year.”

“I have to be tremendously better,” Evola said of his senior season. “This year has to be motivation. I have to do so much better, and if I don’t, I’ll consider it a failure. Winning this award isn’t the end for me — it’s more of the beginning.”