The two best things about working for Canadian Hockey Enterprises are the fantastic places we get to travel to, and seeing how passionate people are about hockey. It doesn’t matter if I’m witnessing the joy on a girls face as she gets chased around the ice by Meghan Agosta, or the massive smile on the face of the captain of a men’s’ team when we present the Lefty Wilson Championship trophy, the passion and excitement is the same and it’s inspiring. But like anything, when you’re constantly surrounded by it you tend to not notice it.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I peeked out at the game on Rink 2 at Isatis Sport Chambly on April 26th to watch The Cowboys from Barrie take on Strange Brew from Newcastle in the opening game of the 35+ division. Both teams had been to Montreal before and there wasn’t anything particularly special about the game, except for the player wearing number 5 for the Cowboys. Dave Gillham has a great stride and plays a sounds positional game on D, but as a member of Strange Brew breaks down his wing, Dave throws himself on the ice and takes out puck and player. Not the most graceful play, but he gets the job done.
You see, Dave had an electrocution accident at work and lost both of his arms, a setback that would have stopped most people from playing any sports at all, but not Dave. A lifelong player, Dave had to basically learn the game from scratch and luckily he had a great group of guys to help him do that. In the words of his captain Leonard Del Duca “he is my HERO!”, and the rest of the Cowboys feel the same and are more than happy to have on the team. A couple of guys help him get dressed before the game, and when they pass to Dave they have to make sure to follow the pass so Dave can get it back to them just like a soccer play. He blocks shots, chases down players and will literally throw himself in the way of anything if it will help the team.
And help the team he did as the Cowboys went on to win the Holiday Inn Midtown Championship trophy, but the true winners that weekend was anyone who had a chance to speak with Dave and his teammates. That kind of passion for hockey combined with the camaraderie of his teammates and opponents was inspiring to everyone in Montreal that weekend. You can read a more thorough article on Dave’s journey here and a great 16:9 video here.
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