By: James Jackson, Media Relations Intern
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Dillon Kelley is one of two new goalies the Marksmen acquired this off-season.
The 23-year-old rookie goaltender started playing hockey when he was just four years old. It wasn’t until much later in his hockey career, with his family’s endless support, Dillon made the move to goalie.
“I always liked the gear!” Kelley joked “I always thought the pads and painted masks were cool. Finally when I was a freshman in high school I gave it a try and never looked back.”
Kelley spent four years playing NCAA Division 3 hockey for Adrian College in his home of Michigan. He recalls his biggest challenge while learning the position.
“I think I speak for most goalies when I say the mental side of the game is the toughest to figure out.” Kelley said “Learning how to manage the highs and lows, and the stress that comes with being a goaltender. That’s something you can never stop learning about.”
Playing for the Metro Jets in the NA3HL, then up to the Austin Bruins in the NAHL, Kelley and his teams made the playoffs. While both playoff runs were unsuccessful in capturing a championship, it was an experience Kelley wouldn’t soon forget.
“Nothing compares to playoff hockey. Anyone can win at any time; everything is more intense and the energy in the arenas is wild. Every game counts, every shift…everything. Every player has that pressure to play their best in the playoffs, because you never know if that one shift or shot on goal is going to be the difference maker.”
After inconsistent goaltending in year one, the Marksmen look to enter their sophomore campaign with a young, steady two-headed goalie tandem.
“My goals are to give my team a chance to win every game I’m in the net, and to make my teammates better everyday in practice.” said Kelley “I want to help my team turn this ship around and make the playoffs and bring home some hardware.”
While unsure who his biggest role model is in the goalie position, Kelley is very grateful for the ones who paved the way for him.
“I’ve always looked up to the goalies who were older than me and got through the same check point of their career that I was going through. The guys that paved the way for me to have the opportunity I have now.”
When not on the ice, he’s working for a family-friend doing odd end jobs. Along with that, Kelley also works at Hockey University in Ann Arbor as a goalie coach.
“Everyone usually gets pretty happy and excited when I tell them I play pro hockey. It makes me feel very grateful for this opportunity with the Marksmen.”
In his free time Kelley likes to be active and outdoors. He enjoys skateboarding, water sports and “hangin’ with the boys”. Catch Dillon, and the rest of the Marksmen, at the Crown Coliseum all-season, starting on Opening Night, October 19th at 7 P.M. against the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs.
If you’re interested in partnering up with the Marksmen, or hearing about our season ticket packages, group packages, and mini-plans, email Director of Media Relations Shawn Bednard, SBednard@MarksmenHockey.com.
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The Fayetteville Marksmen are owned and operated by Union Pro Hockey Group and play their home games at Crown Coliseum. The Marksmen are a committed community asset, designed to provide premium entertainment to families and individuals in Cumberland County and surrounding areas.
(Photo Credit: Adrian College, Home & Away Photography, Norfolk Admirals)