GILLETTE, Wyo.--The Gillette Wild have existed for only two seasons, but the team's success and caliber of play is giving players opportunities to advance their playing careers. Gillette native Trent Dillinger will be doing that in Texas next season.
Dillinger was recently selected as the 209th pick by the Rio Grande Killer Bees of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The NAHL is a tier II league, a level up from what the Gillette Wild are in. The Killer Bees are moving to Hidalgo, Tex. after being in Wenatchee, Wash. as the Wild for the past five seasons.
Head Coach Tom Winkler of the Wild had a lot to say about Dillinger advancing to the next level.
“From Trent's standpoint, it's a fantastic accomplishment. He has worked very, very hard the last two years to redefine his game... To see him get drafted, is basically the reward for all of his hard work. So obviously, the staff and as an organization, we're extremely proud of him and what he has accomplished.”
Dillinger is looking forward to “gain more knowledge of the game of hockey,” while playing for the Killer Bees.
Even though he is from Gillette, the experience of traveling with the Wild helped Dillinger get ready for the experience in Texas.
“It's a lot different actually, going somewhere on a bus with your teammates than it is having mom and dad haul you to every tournament. It teaches you to be, like, responsible for yourself.”
He is excited about the opportunity to play away from home. He realizes that he may get a little homesick after a month or so, but he realizes that is what it takes to go after his dream.
One thing Dillinger will get to experience in Hidalgo is the $20 million, multi-purpose State Farm Arena, that seats 5.500 for hockey.
“It looks beautiful actually. I can't wait to go down there and actually see it.”