Bobby Sill got the idea after hearing about the association’s need for funding. Zach, a forward with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, pulled strings with his sponsor, Reebok.
“Bobby wanted to know exactly what was needed as he was hopeful that he and Zach might be able to help out,” said Angela Reid, an association member.
Bobby and his father Grant arrived recently at the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex in Brookfield with 30 sets of gear for initiation and novice players.
Reid hopes the donations will help with enrolment numbers.
“Starting in hockey is a big commitment,” Reid said. “A lot of young players look up to Zach Sill, they will be so excited to know that he was able to get Reebok involved. It’s awesome how Zach and Bobby are supporting our rink and young players.”
Kathy Weatherbee, SCMHA president, was likewise thrilled.
“It’s really exciting when something like this takes place. It’s so nice to see the Sill brothers create opportunities for future generations within the South Colchester hockey community.”
Following a big season in professional hockey, Zach returned to his home in Birch Hill earlier this week.
“It was Bobby’s idea,” Zach said. “But it was absolutely huge Reebok giving 30 sets of gear for young players in South Colchester.”
Bobby, 27, an ironworker and member of local 752, is a former outstanding goaltender in the SCMHA. He later played four seasons in junior B with Brookfield Elks and Strait Pirates.
“It’s excellent to see as many kids as possible get a chance to play minor hockey at South Colchester,” Bobby said. “If only a couple kids get to play it makes this all worthwhile.”
Just over two weeks ago, Zach Sill supporters were able to watch game five of the American Hockey League conference final between Sill’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the St. Johns IceCaps. The IceCaps were leading the series three games to one, with the score was tied 2-2 late in the third period before a capacity crowd in Wilkes-Barre.
“Zach Sill, Zach Sill…. scores with 15 seconds remaining in regulation time,” the play-by-play announcer screamed into the microphone as Sill found the back of the net. “The Penguins lead it 3-2…Sill and his teammates are piled up, celebrating on the ice.”
St. Johns won game six of the series, but was defeated in five games by the Texas Stars in the Calder Cup final.
Zach, 26, is also a former SCMHA player and the MVP during the 2006-07 Maritime Hockey League playoffs as he led the Bearcats to championship honours. He accomplished a lot this past season.
Opening the year playing 18 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Sill’s outstanding play earned him a call-up to the Pittsburgh Penguins for 20 games. Sill gave a good showing before Pittsburgh returned him to the AHL in January. On Jan. 28, an opposing player’s skate severed three tendons in Sill’s arm. The injury put Sill out for close to 12 weeks.
He returned to action during the final two regular season games and was an outstanding contributor in 17 playoff games as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton made a deep playoff run.
Sill recalled being in the dressing room in Pittsburgh alongside stars such as Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Kunitz and Neal.
“I recall being excited especially the first game we played in New Jersey,” he said. “They were all really good guys in Pittsburgh to be around. They went out of their way to make the adjustment easy for me.”
In a different situation, Sill will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“Right now I’m waiting to see what takes place in Pittsburgh,” Sill said. “Although I’m not certain just exactly what will take place, it’s exciting being a free agent. For the first time I’ll have some say in my future.”