By: Reed Gossard
Dillon Gasparek is, by UAB Men’s Ice Hockey standards, a veteran. Three years ago he was a player on the team’s inaugural season, and the center is entering his junior season with high aspirations for the program.
First off, what does a hockey center do exactly?
D: “We take face-offs and play offense. We’re supposed to be the first guy back to play defense. We’re basically all over the ice.”
Like a mid-fielder in soccer?
D: (laughs). “Yeah, like that.”
What do you personally do to contribute on both sides of the ice?
D: “I’m gritty. I love blocking shots and battling for pucks in the corners. And then scoring goals, getting assists, basically anything to put the puck in the back of the net is the best thing I can do. Anything to help the team win.”
How did you come to join the team?
Dillon: “I had a friend connection. I got a text and then went and tried out and it seemed to work out. I’m pretty sure it did, because I’m still here.” (laughs).
How’s the experience been?
D: “Great! I’ve made a bunch of friends. We’re a close group of guys. I’m really looking forward to next season.”
How have you seen the program grow from its first season until now?
D: “The inaugural season we only played thirteen games and had a losing season, but last season we won twenty games so we’re progressing at a fast rate. We just get better and better the more hockey we play.”
What’s it like playing in Pelham? Do you think it gives the team a substantial home-ice advantage?
D: “Definitely. The new arena we built is awesome. It seats a lot of fans and it’s always fun to have the fans there cheering us on.”
Since you started playing, have any rivalries developed?
D: “Auburn. We split four games with them last year. It’s always fun to play against a tough team. They’re always physical and have a group of talented guys that are fun to play against.”
What is your favorite memory from the first two seasons?
D: “Scoring my first goal in an away game at Auburn in my sophomore year, a game we won.”
What do you consider the team’s goal to be this season?
D: “I don’t think we have a ceiling. Obviously we want to win more than twenty games, but we just want to get better and better on the ice as a team.”
I have to ask, do you have any superstitions or rituals you do to prepare for a game?
D: (laughs). “I always get dressed left to right, bottom to top. Even down to the straps on my helmet. Also, no one touches my sticks after I’ve taped them.”
Quick question before we finish: what’s the best hair style for a hockey player?
D: (laughs). “Just that all-natural messy hockey flow, y’know?”
UAB Men’s Ice Hockey competes at the Division III ACHA level. Games are played at the Pelham Civic Center in Birmingham, Alabama. The full schedule for the 2018-2019 season will be released later this week.