April 27, 2004
Notre Dame, Ind. – Notre Dame hockey team captain Aaron Gill (Sr., Rochester, Minn.) has signed a one-year contract with the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks for the 2004-05 season. The senior, who is currently on an amateur tryout with San Jose’s top affiliate, the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Cleveland Barons, signed the deal on Friday, April 23.
With the Barons, Gill played in six regular season games, scoring a goal in his first game on April 2nd in a 3-1 win over Toronto. The goal was his only point in the regular season. The Rochester, Minn., native helped Cleveland defeat Toronto in the first-round, best-of-three playoff series, playing in all three games mainly as a checking center. Cleveland is now tied with Hamilton in the quarterfinal round, 1-1. Gill is back in school finishing up the final week of classes and finals. If Cleveland is still playing when he finishes finals and graduates, Gill will return to Cleveland for the remainder of the playoffs.
“It’s really a dream come true for me,” said Gill. “After the season, San Jose asked me to go to Cleveland on an amateur tryout contract to see how I would do and to give me some exposure. I guess they liked what they saw and decided to sign me to a contract for next season.”
The 24-year old center was comfortable with his play in the American Hockey League over the last three weeks.
“It’s a different game. The players are faster and stronger. It’s a more controlled game. I think it’s easier to play, because everyone knows what’s going on,” says Gill.
His first pro goal is also something that the Irish captain will remember.
“I was lucky on the goal,” says Gill with a smile. “I took a shot and the rebound went off my skate and past the goaltender but it stopped on the goal line. One of their defenseman tried to clear it, but pushed it into the net. But that’s okay. I’ll take it.”
In his final season at Notre Dame, Gill finished the year with career highs in goals (17), assists (21), points (38) and power-play goals (9) as he finished second on the team in scoring to Rob Globke (Sr., West Bloomfield, Mich.). A second team CCHA all-star, Gill played in 153 games in his Notre Dame career, the third-highest total for any Irish hockey player. He closed his career with 49 goals and 62 assists for 111 points, good for a tie for 34th on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list.
Signing as a free agent with San Jose caps a great final season for Gill.
“I guess all the hard work paid off. I never thought of it as work, it was never a hassle. Everything worked out well for me,” says Gill.