Pictou County's Daniel Martin wins gold at World Games
Daniel Martin struck gold on Friday in the 1600-metre snowshoeing race in Austria.
Windsor’s Michael Dill is making a name for himself in Pictou County, where he’s playing with the Crushers.
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MOUNT WILLIAM - Although he’s a little far from his roots on the Dill Farm in Windsor, Michael Dill’s love and passion for the game of hockey keeps him going.
The 19-year-old is now in his second season with the Pictou County Crushers.
Last year was Dill’s first year on the team, which also happened to be the year the Crushers won the league championship.
“I was raised in Windsor, my dad Danny has the pumpkin farm up there,” he said. “Growing up, every winter I would go play hockey on Long Pond, which was basically our backyard.”
Long Pond is known as the site where the game of hockey began.
“Just growing up around hockey and the culture there, my family all loves the game, and I’ve loved it ever since I started playing,” he said.
Dill currently plays centre after he was drafted by the Crushers two seasons ago and has quickly made a major impact on the team. He previously played with the bantam Valley Wildcats and spent three years with the midget Wildcats in Berwick. He also played with Windsor’s Valley Maple Leafs during a playoff run.
“Things are going good right now, I think we’ve won nine games, lost two and are ranked eighth in the country. That’s pretty cool,” he said recently.
“I contribute any way I can to help the team win. I just go out there and work hard every game and try to put the puck in the net to help out. Whatever the team needs.”
Dill said he’s been adjusting to his new home, moving in with extended family and attending community college.
“I love it here. I transitioned very nicely. The hockey has been great as well, it’s awesome,” he said.
“You always miss home, but my parents are able to make it to most games in Pictou, so it’s nice to see them.”
Eye on the future
With another year left of Junior A eligibility – hopefully with the Crushers – Dill is eyeing the future.
“Hopefully, I can get into university level hockey somewhere, either in the U.S. or Canada,” he said.
Crushers coach Doug Doull said Michael Dill has already been scouted by university level teams.
“He’s getting looks now from the university league and we’ve received calls about him,” Doull said. “I don’t think he’s showing any signs of stopping.”
Dill doesn’t have a particular school he’s interested in yet and is remaining focused on this season.
“I’m always trying to get faster, bigger and stronger,” he said. “There’s a lot of big strong guys playing out there, so you want to be able to keep up with them and take the hits.”
On the other side, Dill said his biggest strength is his game sense and mental focus.
“It’s just about worrying about the next shift, not too far into the game,” he said. “Just play the game.”
As a rookie on the team last year, Dill said a lot of the older guys on the team coached him and encouraged him starting out.
“I looked up to those guys and they helped me along the way,” he said. “This year I try to bring that to some of the younger guys myself.”
Doull said a lot of Dill’s success comes from his deep love of hockey.
“He works hard on practices, he loves getting on the ice, and his habits are extraordinarily good for someone at his level. The goal for me is to push Michael as hard as we can to get him to the next level,” he said.
“Michael is a dream to coach, for all of his skill and everything else; he’s just a good person. What really stands out about Michael is that he’s a hard worker, a real good teammate and guys on our team really drive off the energy he brings on and off the ice.”
Doull said Dill has been the offensive catalyst for the team, adding that he’s been shocked at how skilled he was at the outset.
“He’s really standing out, not only offensively, but on the defensive side of the puck.
“The guys really take to him and he’s actually brought along Dylan Riley, another guy from the Valley,” he said. “He’s a real leader.”
Doull said Dill’s biggest challenge is increasing his weight and overall size in order to compete at the next level.
“The next level for him, which is very realistic in NCAA, I believe he can play at the Division 1 level,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure he gets the right exposure there. But, with the fact that he’s playing against grown men at that level and he’s light by those standards.”
Still, Doull says he wouldn’t be surprised if Dill continues to rise in the hockey ranks.