Every player will remember their maiden voyage in a new league. That year and the memories created will be forever etched on their career.
Every season is unique, every season is special.
A players sophomore season is often fraught with outside pressures or things that they can’t necessarily control.
High expectations from all areas, to NHL Draft pressure, to reproving yourself, to leading a rebuilding team, year two in the journey can be equally challenging if not more stressful than one would think.
The experience from “year one” is invaluable, it creates an unrelenting confidence which solidifies a players leadership qualities on and off the ice.
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies star defender and Riverview, New Brunswick product Dyllan Gill experienced that first hand in the 2021-2022 season.
“It was a great honour to be put into a leadership position this year,” Gill said.
“As a 17-year-old, it is not always easy being relied upon in a leadership role however with the experience I’ve gained so far, and support from those around me, I really felt I deserved to be put into this role,” Gill said.
“Everyone who wears that Huskies logo feels great pride and being a part of the leadership group made it even more special,” said Gill who amassed 21 points 6 goals and 15 assists) in 66 games this season.
Unfortunately, Covid still wreaked havoc across the QMJHL causing numerous stops and starts throughout the season.
“This season, we experienced many ups and downs with the Covid breaks, and many injuries. There is always a sense of needing to step up when someone gets injured however I feel as a group we did a great job filling in holes when they came,” explained Gill.
In Gill’s mind the Huskies “next man up” mentality will ultimately pay dividends.
“As a group, we became very close, and this made it easier to not focus on the pressure and instead try to make the most of every day at the rink.”
“For me, it means a lot to be that “go to guy” for others, so I am never going to complain about taking five minutes of my day to help another teammate out.”
Gill’s attention to detail is second to none.
“The last two seasons have had many ups and downs. With all the inconsistencies Covid has brought us, it’s been difficult to prepare as much as I like. This has been very challenging however it allowed me to learn to go with the flow and taught me how to adapt a lot better than I previously could.”
“I learned to prepare for many different outcomes rather than just one because we never knew what was going to happen.”
When it comes to personal accolades or individual goals, Gill still puts the team’s best interests first and remains incredibly grounded and humble.
“I feel I had a good season this year.”
“I expected a lot out of myself being in a leadership role however I am happy with how things turned out. I earned an important role on our back end, and I was able to play in all situations. I also feel that I improved in all aspects of my game, and I learned many different tools this year that I will keep using moving forward.”
Pressure is pressure. Some players claim their NHL Draft year is the most stressful year of their lives and careers.
“As for it being my draft year, I found I had more success when I took my mind off it and focused on being better every day.”
“I worked with our staff all season long and my progression was much better when I focus on the little details and allowing everything to come together instead of forcing the big picture.”
“There is always going to be pressure no matter what whether you’re a 16-year-old or a 20-year-old.”
“Our team expected a lot out of me, but I also expected a lot out of myself. We believed I could have an impact and that I could also keep pushing myself further than I thought I could,” Gill said.
“There was not a specific amount of pressure however I knew what was expected of me and what I had to do to accomplish that. I feel I handled the NHL draft pressure well. I did my best to focus on my game and let the draft figure itself out.”
“Being interviewed by the NHL teams is very special,” Gill said.
“As a young kid growing up with a dream of playing in the NHL, it is very cool to look at from that perspective. However, there is still lots of work to be done and whether I am drafted this summer or not, my path isn’t over. I need to keep working and making the most of my summers to gain muscle and speed and the rest will figure itself out whether it’s now or down the road.”
The lessons learned a long the way continue to shape Gill’s life on and off the ice.
How excited is he for his 3rd season with the Huskies and what were the fans and atmosphere really like around the organization now that things have returned to normal?
“I am very excited to get back to Rouyn for my third year. We have a lot to look forward to and I think our group will keep getting better each day,” admitted the 18 year old defender.
“Having the fans in the rink gives us an extra boost and we are very lucky to have such a loyal hardcore fanbase such as ours in Rouyn.”
“Our fans play a large role in our success, and they have been there every step of the way. Everyone in the organization is excited to get the next season going and we are all looking forward to the first puck drop of the season on September 9th in Shawinigan.”
All signs point to another Gill being selected in the 1st round of the QMJHL Draft.
Dylan’s brother Spencer who was an integral component in the TELUS Cup winning Moncton Flyers team is currently ranked 13th overall by the QMJHL’s CSR.
“When it comes to advice for Spencer, I have mostly been telling him to leave it all on the table and to do his best to make the most of each interview.”
“There is only one team who will be able to draft him however it is important to make the most of each time he is on the phone, writing a questionnaire, or logging onto a zoom call.”
“I am not interfering too much because it is his path to experience however if he ever needs my opinion or a helping hand, I will gladly lend it to him.”
Spoken like a true amazing big brother he is.
Dyllan Gill’s character maturity and poise on the ice is also matched off of it, which is an incredibly rare trait in this day and age.
The support and love he has received from his family is truly awe inspiring and is the pillar of his life.
“ My family’s support is almost indescribable.”
“They have been by my side since the night my name was announced on June 5th, 2020, and since then they have been my biggest and most consistent supporters.”
“It is difficult for them to get to many games however if they can make it even for a game, they are there without hesitating. It is always very refreshing seeing them in the stands so when they are able to make it, it’s very encouraging.”
Year one and two is history, they have shaped and moulded not only the player but the person.
The best is yet to come for the ultra-talented two and half zone defender.
Life is lived in the moment and Dyllan Gill will never take one of those moments or experiences for granted.
“Over the last few years, I’ve learned many things about myself as a person and player. I have really learned to make the most of each moment and how to get better every day. I have learned how to treat my body better and how to help myself be at my best all the time.”
“My passion through the game over the last two years has grown immensely and this is all because the great people we are surrounded with in Rouyn.”
“I wake up each day with a desire to get better and fortunately we can have fun and get better at the same time. I hope to play pro down the road because I truly love this sport and want to take it as far as I can.”
“I will need to keep working however I believe if I keep pushing my limits and working hard it is very achievable.”