The Kitmart Dundee Stars are delighted to confirm the signing of forward, Connor Sills for the 2021-2022 Elite League campaign.
The 26-year-old winger will make his professional hockey debut in Dundee this season and adds a big presence to the Stars attack, as well as grit and offensive ability.
After initially signing with the club last summer before the season was cancelled, Sills joins the Stars from the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, where he spent four years competing in the Canadian collegiate league, USports.
The six-foot-four-inches tall, attacker has also previously played in the Ontario Hockey League for four years and prior to that he played for junior clubs in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Stars General Manager and Head Coach, Omar Pacha is thrilled to have Sills signed up again and still believes he can add something new to the team.
Pacha said: “We are excited to have Connor join us because I think he can add that presence up front that we have been missing.
“He is a strong forward and he showed some good numbers in his last season, so he has that offensive touch too.
“But it is more for his gritty size and aggressiveness, which is maybe something we have lacked in the last few years – a power forward with presence that can play anywhere in the line-up from top to bottom, right to left to center.
“So, his versatility is something that I believe will be important!”
Omar continued: “Connor had the year off but he was really motivated to comeback and he has trained extremely hard in the offseason.
“You watch the way he plays, and you become confident that he can add offence for us, even while he plays his natural game of being physical, tough and hard to play against.
“I felt we were missing that in the past, that gritty guy and someone who is strong in the corners, strong in front of the net and who has an offensive touch but I believe we have now found that in Connor.
“During the past four years at the University of Ottawa, Connor has seemed to progress as a player and has exploited his offensive skills, whilst still playing well defensively as well.
“Also, he is a great person and he comes well recommended from his coach at Ottawa.
“He was a good teammate, he seemed to be well like on the team and he is a guy, that will just be a great presence for our team both on and off the ice.”
After signing his new deal that confirmed he would still be making his professional debut with the Stars, a delighted Sills said: “I am excited to still be coming to Dundee.
“Even last year, when I signed and had talked with Coach Omar, I was ecstatic to be coming to this city, to this team, to meet these fans and to embrace that whole culture.
“So, when I was talking with Omar a couple months ago, he made it clear that he still believed in me as a player and had all the same interest as before and same ideas for what I can bring to the team, so I knew that I was not going to be going anywhere else.
“He was the one that believed in me last year and he showed that same interest again this year, even though I only played maybe half a season, so just that interest he showed in me as a person and a player goes a long way.
“So, I am very excited to get to Dundee and get things going, it has been a long time coming.”
Connor then shared an insight to what it was like for players trying to find new teams during the COVID-19 season and he said: “Once the Elite League season was confirmed to be completely cancelled, there was a lot of uncertainty around what I was going to do.
“I knew I wanted to keep playing hockey but at that point, the hockey market was so small because a lot of leagues had cancelled their seasons.
“It was pretty last minute but I signed with Florida Everblades in the East Coast Hockey League.
“So, I was training from September to November and getting ready for their season to start, then I went down to Florida and I was there for about three weeks and played two exhibition games.
“However, because the NHL and American Hockey League had not started yet, the market was so low and there was almost a trickle down affect, as all the signed players from Nashville Predators came down to Florida, so it did not quite work out for me as they had to make adjustments for those guys.
“That is the business aspect of it and is it what it is but after that I could have decided to maybe take on another East Coast deal but I was really uncertain about what that season would offer, if it would continue and nobody knew where COVID was going at that point.
“So, my best bet was to do a firefighting school and finish up some education that I always wanted to do.
“I started in February and I just graduated about a month ago, so ever since I got home, I have been making the most of the outdoor rinks here in Thunder Bay and working out, trying to stay in the best shape as possible for coming to Dundee.”
The Canadian then discussed his ambitions for his first professional season and said: “I hope the team has a big year, with hopefully a long deep run and a championship at the end of it.
“But personally, I just want to pick up where I left off with Ottawa, because I was playing some of the best hockey of my career right as things got shutdown before the national finals.
“So, I hope to keep that going and help the team anyway I can to win, so we can have that deep run this year and I am excited to meet all my new teammates, the staff and the fans.”
Connor’s career started in the Ontario junior leagues, as he played for Thunder Bay Kings and Thunder Bay North Stars between 2010 and 2012.
The 214lbs Canadian accumulated 84 points (49G, 35A) in the midget leagues after playing in 157 games.
The winger, who can play either side was then drafted in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection Draft and was selected at 173rd overall (9th round) by Plymouth Whalers.
In 2012, Sills began playing with the Whalers and in his first year in Plymouth, he was teammates with current Washington Capitals forward and 2018 Stanley Cup Winner, Tom Wilson.
The right-handed forward played for the Whalers up until 2015, when he then moved to another OHL club, Flint Firebirds.
In his only year with the Firebirds, Sills was appointed as an alternate captain and put up 18 points (5G+13A) in 60 games, whilst collecting 132 penalty minutes.
During his four year OHL career, Connor played in 235 matches and scored 43 points (18G+25A), while spending 357 minutes in the sin bin.
Then in 2016, he signed with the University of Ottawa for the next four years and in 2018/2019 season, he was part of the Gee-Gees team that won the OUA East Division of the USports League.
Over the course of his four years with the University of Ottawa, Connor appeared 115 times for the Gee-Gees and racked up 63 points (33G+30A) and accumulated 175 penalty minutes.
Therefore, in his career so far, Sills has featured in 507 matches, scored 100 goals, assisted 90 times and has collected 711 penalty minutes.
Connor is our fifth signing of the summer, joining Craig Garrigan, Drydn Dow, Kris Inglis and Alexandre Ranger on the roster for next season and you can get your season tickets to watch these five and the rest of the team in the 2021-2022 campaign by contacting: email@example.com
Sills will wear the #23 Stars jersey next season.
To view Connor’s career stats on Elite Prospects click HERE.
The Dundee Stars are a professional ice hockey team based in the Scottish city of Dundee. They were formed in 2001 and play their home games at the Dundee Ice Arena.