Wichita Falls forward Dillinger makes NCAA commitment
June 10, 2016
The Wichita Falls Wildcats, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that winger Trent Dillinger has committed to play Division III NCAA hockey at Norwich University of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference East. He will begin his college hockey career at the start of the 2016-17 season.
“In addition to Coaches LaFontaine and Nelson, all of the players in the Wildcats locker room were a huge support system and without them playing hard and working for each other and boosting my game and helping me be successful, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now,” Dillinger said. “The coaching staff at Norwich is incredible and has a long and successful history in the hockey world. The way everyone conducts themselves and runs their hockey program reminds me a lot of Wichita Falls.”
The tenth Wildcat from the 2015-16 roster, Dillinger, 21, became the first player in franchise history to commit to Norwich. Though there have been few ties between the Cadets and the Wildcats, the NHL has accumulated some talent from the academy over the years. NHL alumni Keith Aucoin and Kurtis McLean each played four seasons for the Cadets before turning pro the following year.
“I am so excited to see Trent commit to Norwich’s storied program,” Wildcats Head Coach John LaFontaine said. “We really enjoyed him in the short time we had him in Wichita Falls, wish we had him longer. Norwich is getting a strong leader on and off the ice whose upside is still peaking.”
Dillinger was acquired from the Amarillo Bulls via trade mid-season in January of 2016. The 6’3/185 lbs. forward immediately made an impact, scoring four goals in his first six games as a Wildcat. He added size and grit to a team built around speed and skill, which proved to be crucial to making a deep playoff run.
In 18 regular season games, the Gillette, Wyoming native notched six goals, two assists and eight points. More importantly than his point totals, however, Dillinger was characterized as a good teammate and a heart-and-soul player, providing intangible qualities, which he will carry with him to Norwich.
Dillinger is yet another example of an NA3HL to NAHL to NCAA development story. Dillinger made his junior hockey debut with the Gillette Wild, while they were members of the AWHL in 2011-12. During the 2013-14 season, he made his NAHL debut with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. In 2014-15, he split time between the NA3HL and NAHL with Gillette and Amarillo. In 121 career NA3HL/AWHL games, Dillinger recorded 96 career points. In 94 NAHL games, he recorded 31 points.