March 12, 2004
By Tim Connor
When Aaron Gill arrived at Notre Dame after a standout junior career for his hometown Rochester Mustangs, the Irish coaching staff figured they had a diamond in the rough. It turns out that the Irish found a real gem in their 6-0, 180-pound center.
In four years at Notre Dame, Gill has done it all. Whether it’s killing penalties, winning a key face off or scoring a big goal, the 24-year old forward always gets the job done.
“When we recruited Aaron, I thought he was going to be an energy guy for us, a guy who played a defensive role, but he just keeps getting better every year,” says Irish head coach Dave Poulin.
“His offensive emergence has continued this season to the point where he is one of the CCHA’s top scorers. But, he does everything else well too. He’s a leader. His work ethic on and off the ice sets the table for us to demand the same thing from everyone else. He’s certainly answered all our expectations.”
Gill finished the 2003-04 regular season with 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points. The assists and points are career highs for the high-flying center iceman. He and his Notre Dame teammates now look forward to the post season.
Aaron Gill is second on the Irish in scoring this season with 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points.
The easy-going Gill describes himself as a hard-working player.
“I think that my work ethic is the strength of my game. I pride myself in being a hard worker. I work pretty hard no matter what the situation is,” explains Gill.
He added, “I don’t consider myself a real pretty player. I try to do the little things well. Hopefully my overall game looks decent, but I really concentrate on the little things and try to be successful there.”
One area that stands out in Gill’s game is his quickness and speed. He credits that to his ability “to keep his feet moving.”
“I know that I’m not the fastest skater, but if I look fast, it’s because I keep my feet moving,” says Gill, who is joined on the Notre Dame roster by his younger brother, Tony.
” If you’re trying to get from point A to point B you aren’t going to get there any faster by coasting. By keeping your feet moving you look faster.”
“Aaron is the definition of an over speed drill,” says Poulin.
“He constantly keeps his feet moving. It’s funny, because when we make them stop in a drill, he struggles, because he wants to keep his feet moving. His ability to keep his feet moving puts him in a good place all the time.”
The political science major has played 148 games in his Irish career to rank sixth on the all-time games played list going into the Western Michigan series.
Earlier this season, Gill became the 41st player in Notre Dame history to score 100 points in his career. Going into the first round of the CCHA playoffs, he had 44 goals and 59 assists in 148 career games. The 148 games played tie him for sixth on the all-time Irish list.
As one of Notre Dame’s team leaders, the political science major’s tremendous work ethic is something that his teammates can’t help but admire.
“I try to lead by example. I try to set the tone for what I think needs to be done to be successful. I’ll say something when it needs to be said, but I’m not a big yeller,” explains Gill.
He continues, “It’s a great honor to be selected team captain. I was happy to be one of the guys who was asked to help contribute to the leadership and help take this team where we want to go.”
Where the Irish want to go this season is Joe Louis Arena and beyond. They start the CCHA playoffs at home versus Western Michigan with an 18-12-4 record, their best regular-season mark since the 1998-99 season. A fifth-place finish in the CCHA earned them their first home-ice series since 1999-2000.
“Getting to Joe Louis Arena for the third straight season would be a huge thing for the hockey program. Being one of the players who helped get that done would be great,” says the son of Kirk and Jennie Gill.
“We all know that it will take hard work to get there. It’s been our goal all season. As a team, we’ve been there and gotten a taste and seen what it’s all about. This year we want to get there and get a couple of wins and see where that can take us.”
In a season that has seen the Irish knock off Boston College, Maine, Wisconsin and Michigan (all ranked in the top five when Notre Dame defeated them), Gill says that he and his teammates are ready for the playoffs to start.
“We really get pumped up to play in the big games and we’ve had a great run at home this season. I think we get a little more focused especially on the little things when we play the better teams,” says Gill.
“Sometimes it seems like we do a better job of taking on the top teams than the lower teams. It’s fun to take down those big teams.”
As his Notre Dame career enters its final month, the easy-going Minnesotan looks back fondly on his four years.
“People tell you that college will go fast. Once you get past your sophomore year, it really seems to fly,” says Gill.
“I’ve had a great time at Notre Dame, but I guess it has to end soon.”