Trevor Hamilton Making a Strong Case for a Griffins Roster Spot

Trevor Hamilton Making a Strong Case for a Griffins Roster Spot

September 8, 2018 2 By Rachel Anderson

Trevor Hamilton is an unexpected but good addition to the roster this season. Added to the Griffins roster in the off-season, Hamilton is hoping to crack it and get a firm foothold in a pro career. Taking the time during the NHL Prospect Tournament to demonstrate his abilities, Trevor is pleading a very strong case. Given his background, it is no surprise that Hamilton has made it this far. He’s got a passion for playing that can be seen as soon as he steps on the ice.

Hamilton has been making his way through the North American hockey system and thriving all the while. Entering the 2018-19 season, Trevor will have played in nearly every available league in the United States – except the NHL.

hamilton makes the most of team usa
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Trevor Hamilton skates for the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL Prospect Tournament. Photo Cred: Jenae Anderson

Trevor’s career started taking shape early. Joining the USHL’s Team USA Junior Development Program at the young age of 16, his skill began to take shape. The USNTDP team is created to highlight elite athletes and draw our their best assets. The likes of Dylan Larkin and upcoming star, Jack Hughes, present strong evidence for the program’s success. Unfortunately for Trevor, every league finds its “golden boys” and though extremely talented, he found himself battling for ice time and attention more than what is perhaps common in other junior leagues.

Coverage for Team USA is select and largely based on who’s hot and who’s not in the prospect world. Hamilton, though thriving in his own right, was unknown for the most part and therefore, finding it hard to gain a foothold in the league. “I wish I would have gone to a program where I could go and play constantly,” Hamilton said. Trevor, a composed and professional young man, holds the team in very high regard and has absolutely no disrespect for them in the least, however, making a move to the NCAA was a necessary change for the defenseman.

ncaa and back again

Trevor’s potential was enough to convince the University of Miami (Ohio) that they needed him. Taking all he had accomplished in the USHL, Hamilton was confident he was prepared for the challenge ahead, “I definitely thought they prepared me very well for college,” Hamilton told Access Hockey MI, “Its a top league in America and I think it gives you a good advantage.” Hamilton’s college campaign began in the 2013-14 season. He skated in 30 games and scored five points.

Things didn’t pan out for Hamilton in the NCAA however, and being still young enough for the USHL, went back for more development. Joining the Muskegon Lumberjacks in 2014-15, Hamilton knew he had work to do. He knew he wasn’t up to par with the bigger, older guys in college, which caused the early exit from the NCAA, “When I came back to the USHL I definitely took that (development) for granted,” reflected Hamilton.

captain hammer

Upon his return, Hamilton was made Captain and filled the role well. During his time with the Lumberjacks, where his father Mike Hamilton is now head coach, Trevor grew in his ability to play the game but also defined valuable leadership qualities. “We had a great group of guys that year (Lumberjacks), I was young so it was a little difficult – I felt like I did pretty well,” he said. That first season back, he skated in 44 games, Trevor earned 27 points (9G, 18A) – a dramatic improvement from his NCAA season. Taking his role seriously as captain, Hamilton continued to lead the team by example. In 2015-16, he played in 32 games and tallied 25 points (6G, 19A).

More change was on the horizon for the young captain, as he was traded during the 2015-16 season to the Chicago Steel and almost immediately thereafter, to the Lincoln Stars. Being without the captain title, and being caught in a whirlwind of transition was taken as a growing experience. Finding out his personality as an athlete, Hamilton became aware of his position and embraced it. He told Access Hockey MI, “I noticed that even if I don’t have a letter on my jersey, I still consider myself a leader on the team. Its kind of my personality, to lead.”

penn state or bust

Learning all he could from his return to the USHL, Trevor was picked up by Penn State University. This time around, he was ready

Trevor Hamilton skates for the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL Prospect Tournament. Photo Cred: Jenae Anderson

for it. Hamilton had an incredible two seasons with Penn State. Following his return to the USHL, it was evident to Trevor he had some work to do and based on his performance with Penn State, he put in the hours. In the 2016-17 season, he skated in 39 games and put up 26 points (6G, 20A). Piggybacking on the success, he finished up his NCAA career during the 2017-18 season by playing 38 games and earning 29 points (6G, 23A).

Looking back, Trevor thinks better of his decision to leave the USHL early to pursue the NCAA, “If I could do it over again, I would love to play with USHL the whole time,” he said. Not undermining his time with the University of Miami (Ohio), Hamilton has learned from jumping the gun and is determined to be a better player for it.

eat, sleep, skate, repeat with the Toledo walleye

The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye saw a future in Hamilton during his time with Penn State and invited him to join the team. The ECHL is a different animal in comparison to the NCAA. Though not a pro league technically, its a league comprised of men that were up to ten years older than Trevor. Presenting an entirely new physical and mental challenge, Trevor found himself living a life completely different than what he was accustomed to in college. “It was a big jump for me – it’s a pro lifestyle – its a way different in college. (In the) pro lifestyle, you got up, went to the rink, skated, went home.” There’s no homework, there’s little free time, and it is now officially your job.

Chasing a dream can be exhausting and Hamilton felt it, “It’s a man’s league, it’s a tough league to play. By the end of the year, I was getting pretty gassed.” It was a season of immense growth for Hamilton despite being “gassed.” Playing against stronger, smarter and faster men who have been playing significantly longer is a stern test of an athlete’s ability to adapt. Hamilton pushed his character harder than he ever had before in hopes of making it to Grand Rapids – one step closer to the NHL. “I would love to make the Griffins obviously,” he told me, “There’s a lot of guys from the Red Wings that will be with the Griffins so it’ll be tough to make that team. Wherever I’m at, I’m honored for the opportunity to play.”

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Trevor Hamilton skates for the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL Prospect Tournament. Photo Cred: Jenae Anderson

For the first time, Trevor was invited to the annual NHL Prospect Tournament to represent the Detroit Red Wings. The tournament is an opportunity for guys like Hamilton, to show what they’re made of in all situations. Prior to the tournament, Trevor spent his summer preparing for the event and DRW Training Camp, “There’s always nerves that comes with excitement,” he told Access Hockey MI, “ I’ve worked out with a bunch of the Red Wings this summer. It’s going to be cool to play with them and against them.” Working on absorbing everything he can, and not being starstruck, Trevor came to Traverse City prepared for his one shot.

Following Friday night’s matchup between the Red Wings and Minnesota Wild, Hamilton soared. Starting on one of the bottom defensive lines, Coach Simon quickly made the shift and had him backing up Red Wings hopeful, Filip Zadina and his linemates. During the game, that was the top line to watch and Hamilton made his presence glaringly obvious – in the best sense. Crisp passing, fast skating, and unfading tenacity highlighted his time on the ice. I would not be surprised if he landed the Griffins’ roster following the tournament based on his game one performance.

a bright future

Hamilton’s leadership potential and innate qualities, has given him the ability to remain calm even while his dreams seem just out of reach. Through USHL transition challenges, NCAA disappointments, and successes, to now having the chance to make it to the pros, Hamilton has done nothing but grow throughout his career. Putting an intense effort into the Prospect Tournament and focusing on learning everything he can during Training Camp will inevitably lead to his success as a Griffin. Hamilton, like so many others, is a testament to the importance and value of USHL and NCAA hockey. Without these leagues, guys like Trevor would have little chance of making it to a grander scale of hockey

Going forward, I have high hopes for Hamilton. He has the ability to make the team, the drive to pursue the dream, and the heart to play the game well.