A tough start for me this year in Allen. I was injured on the first shift of the game on opening night, and then sick over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday! But it’s very hard to be negative about all that, when your team starts the season 6-2 and follows that up with two player of the week awards, and one player of the month award!
With Steve Martinson’s recruiting this off season, and all of our AHL contracted players, I didn’t expect anything less. The team is fast, skilled and tough just like they have been since Marty (Steve Martinson) took over as Head Coach and General Manager in 2012-2013.
One of Marty’s best signings EVER, if not THE BEST is my buddy and old teammate Riley Gill, who’s number now hangs in the rafters of the Allen event Center. When I first came to Allen, I thought Riley Gill worked for the team, no joke. He was an older guy on the team and didn’t dress like a city slicker, he dresses like a small-town hard-working farm boy.
I’m pretty observant and love channeling in on my teammates in the room. I take pride in keeping an eye on the boys while they’re sitting in their stall, drinking a coffee or mixing in a chew. However, Riley Gill was a different story. I couldn’t read him to save my life. He was quiet around the room, probably because he was thinking of getting off the ice and home to his family or fishing with teammate Aaron Gens.
Riley was the scariest goalie I have ever practiced with; I am almost certain my shot got worse because of Giller (Riley Gill). The reason for that is because my first practice with the team, I hit him square in the head with a puck! You don’t do that to the BEST goalie in ECHL postseason history without paying the price! I may still have slash marks on the back of my legs from his goalie stick.
I spoke briefly on the phone with Riley this week about his favorite times here in Allen, and what he misses about the game, and about his big jersey retirement night.
Anyone who knows Giller (Riley Gill), knows that he is a very humble guy and never talks about himself and how good of a goalie he was. When asking him about his favorite part of being an Allen American, he immediately mentioned the great group players and friends he made here in Allen.
Some of his most memorable moments of his time here in Allen were the road trips despite traveling sometimes 24 hours on a bus to play two games, and then turning around and repeating that process two days later, because it brought our team together and made us a close group. And winning back to back championships was the best part of it.
While other teams were flying to their destination, we were traveling from Allen on our team bus, named “Big Red”. We’ll never forget getting stuck in the mud for ten hours before being rescued, the bus breaking down in the mountains, and listening to rumble strips throughout the night, but believe it or not, it really did help us to win championships!
Riley was very excited when talking about his jersey retirement night this season. He remembers missing an early 6:30 am phone call from Head Coach Steve Martinson and laughing wondering why Marty was calling him so early. He spoke with him later that day and found out the news that his #30 jersey was going to be retired.
Riley was very humbled and appreciative that his #30 jersey was going to be retired, and most excited that he got to celebrate with his old teammates and most importantly his family!
He got a surprise video message from Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach John Cooper, sent a video message to Riley, congratulating him on an amazing career, but that wasn’t his only surprise of the night, as he was told he would NOT be making a speech, then found out later he would be speaking, so obviously he was going to need a couple beers in the suite before heading down for the ceremony. He did get a little nervous when he saw a microphone and red carpet at center ice but pulled through just fine!
He does amazing woodwork, so if you haven’t checked out his new job, please do so on his Facebook page. His company keeps him so busy, that he doesn’t have much time to miss hockey. I can tell you what he doesn’t miss about hockey, and that’s being away from his amazing wife Angela, and his two little boys Jackson and Hudson!
That’s it for this week’s blog, unfortunately I’ll have to save telling everyone the reason I picked number 71 for next week.
Thanks for checking the blog out fans. If you guys have any questions feel free to ask!