Area Male Athlete: Phillips leading W-DC on and off ice

It's the little things that have made Max Phillips a big contributor on the ice this season. That's how Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines head boys hockey coach Scott Woods sees it. His senior wing has been an offensive powerhouse this season, but Woo...

Max Phillips
Max Phillips


It's the little things that have made Max Phillips a big contributor on the ice this season.

That's how Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines head boys hockey coach Scott Woods sees it.

His senior wing has been an offensive powerhouse this season, but Woods said it's been Phillips' leadership that has helped the Wolverines to a 4-4-1 start to the season.

"I don't know if there are any surprises with him other than he's just been such a good leader," Woods said. "That was one thing I didn't get a chance to see last year. He was just a natural leader on his own, but he is our captain. We have a captain and an alternate this year and that part has really shown.


"He doesn't like to lose. He takes things hard. He challenges himself and the team to recover when we don't do well and just those leadership pieces-he's always on time. He's following the dress code. He's doing all the little things right to make sure he's leading on and off the ice. It's helped carry the team."

---   ---   ---   ---   ---

Max Phillips

  • Year: Senior
  • School: Wadena-Deer Creek
  • Sport: Hockey
  • Position: Left wing
  • Highlights: Scored four goals, including a game-winner, last week

---   ---   ---   ---   ---

Phillips put W-DC up 1-0 in the opening period of a Mid-State Conference clash with Northern Lakes Dec. 11. After the Lightning claimed a 3-1 lead, Phillips followed teammate Justin Dykhoff with his game-tying goal with 1:08 remaining in the third to send the game into overtime. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.

"Lleyten Pettit made an amazing move on the defensemen to get that guy out of position and he slid me the puck to practically put it in a wide-open net," Phillips said.

After a 3-1 hiccup against Park Rapids the night after, W-DC rebounded with a 4-3 overtime victory over Red Lake Falls Dec. 15. It was Phillips' game-winner at 6:46 in the extra frame that won it. He also scored at 15:07 in the second to tie the game at 1-1.

"We were in our defensive zone and one of my teammates got the puck and I saw an opportunity to just take off so I took off along the far side and he got me the puck and I just happened to put it in the net," Phillips said.


Phillips leads Section 6-1A with 19 points. His 14 goals are tied for the section lead to go with his five assists.

"He just works so hard," Woods said. "He's a workhorse every game. I don't think he's taken a game off. His linemates have played well around him. They've worked hard, but he's just one, that without a doubt, is a hard worker every shift."

The season started with Pettit at center, but injuries have sidelined the junior. W-DC moved Kade Woods from defense to center, but the move hasn't hurt Phillips' production.

Pettit is tied for third in the Section 6-1A statistics with 16 points. He's tied with the third member of W-DC's top line, right winger Colby Schertler.

"My linemates have helped me out a lot this season-Colby and Lleyton, and now Lleyton is battling injuries, and so Kade Woods has stepped in," Phillips said. "I just feel like it's not as much as me getting all the goals, it's us as a line producing all the goals. I'm just the guy who happens to be in the right spot at the right time."

Last season, Phillips led the Wolverines and finished sixth in the section with 51 points (24 goals and 27 assists) to help W-DC to a 15-10-2 record. The Wolverines were 6-5 against section opponents.

"I think he knew he just had to elevate his game a little bit," Woods said. "He didn't have to do anything drastically different, but he just knew to be a leader he would just have to be working that way so other guys would, too. We don't have quite the scoring punch this year as we did last year so him just bringing that energy helps the other guys feed off of him."

Phillips recorded just one power-play goal last year though. This year, he leads the section with five power-play goals through the first nine games.


"I think with that one, it's just more of their vision is pretty good," Woods said. "Max is one that is pretty good about circling around up top and then he's able to shoot in and find little lanes for passes. They cycle pretty well and when he finds a lane they hit him.

"He's very verbal, too. I would say that's a big strength of his. He's one of the few guys, we're trying to hammer home all the time about being verbal and calling for the puck, and he's one that does that all the time. He moves well without the puck. He calls for it, finds a lane and that's where he's been banging home a lot of his goals."

As a sophomore, Phillips was second on the team and tied for ninth in the section with 42 points (22 goals and 20 assists). He tallied six power-play goals and one short-handed.

"I'm hoping that no matter what happens during the playoffs that we lay it all out on the line," Phillips said. "I know we have some tough competition in our section, but I know we can upset some teams and I just want to give it all we can because I know we can win come playoff time."


Other notable performances:

Basketball: Philip Imdieke, Lake Region, finished with 24 points against Owatonna, 22 points and 19 rebounds against Prior Lake and 22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists against Woodcrest.

Spencer Schaefer, Pillager, finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds against Moose Lake-Willow River, 23 points and six rebounds against Verndale and 18 points and 10 rebounds against New York Mills.


Joseph Stokman, Crosby-Ironton, scored 32 points against Aitkin and 19 against Barnum.

Hockey: Shane Donovan, Northern Lakes, finished with two goals and an assist against Wadena-Deer Creek.

Josh Jennings, Little Falls, finished with two goals and an assist against Prairie Centre.

Wrestling: Owen Bjerga, Staples-Motley, won the 160-pound title at the Big Bear Tournament.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads