The second-year forward has been scoring goals at a rapid pace through the team’s first 20 games. Before being tossed from Wednesday’s contest in Cole Harbour midway through the second period, Hart netted goals 21, 22 and 23.
His second hat trick of the year cushioned his goal-per-game pace, something he admits he checks on after every game.
Sitting in the team’s dressing room on Thursday evening, Hart tried to explain why things have gone so well this season.
“The coaching staff has been a big help for us in terms of motivation,” he said. “The other players have been a big help – my line mates, they make me strive to do well.”
At the start of the season, head coach Lou Lanceleve said Hart was regarded as a top-five player in the league by other coaches. But to him, he was more.
“In my mind, there’s no player I’d rather build a team around in this league,” Lanceleve said. “To be modest, I’d put him in the top-three players his age. But for me, he’s number one.”
Lanceleve’s team-first conviction has been a big help, Hart said. While most of the group has been together since they were children, they’ve never been closer.
“If you look at that sign up there,” he said, pointing to a whiteboard in the top corner of the room. “It says ‘None of us are as good as all of us.’ That’s definitely a big theme around the team.”
The motto pulled them through Wednesday’s game and to a 7-6 win over the Cole Harbour Storm. Short a few bodies to injury, and with Zach Chatfield throwing up in the dressing room, Hart was ejected for knocking an opposing player to the ice after the whistle. Down to seven forwards, Chatfield returned to the ice and scored in the third period to put the Bearcats ahead 6-5.
Hart hopes to be back this weekend as the Bearcats host the Western Hurricanes at 4 p.m. Saturday and the Landworks Gulls at 1 p.m. Sunday. A four-point weekend could put them ahead of the Gulls for third place.
In the most important season of his young life, Hart has turned heads league-wide. The reputation he carries out of this season will precede him next year when he likely joins the Weeks Crushers in midget AAA. Beyond that, he hopes to crack the Bearcats junior A team and eventually play major junior.
He hasn’t noticed scouts yet, but he can feel the extra attention on the ice.
“A few of my buddies, they’re some of the better players on their teams, and the coaches tell them to guard me a little more closely now,” he says with a grin.