It was just a couple of weeks ago when the RPI men’s hockey team announced its 2015-16 recruit class. Goalie Alec Dillon was one of the top players in that class.
But Dillon won’t be gracing the Houston Field House ice.
RPI coach Seth Appert announced Saturday that Dillon decided to take his hockey career to the Canadian major junior route. Dillon is expected to join the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League.
Dillon, the Los Angeles Kings’ fifth-round selection in last year’s NHL draft, committed to RPI two years ago while he was playing for the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League. He played this past season for the Tri-City Storm of the U.S. Hockey League and led the league with a 2.27 goals-against average. He posted a 23-11-4 record. The 23 wins were tied for sixth in the league. His .914 save percentage ranked fourth. Dillon was named to the All-Rookie team
“I was surprised because he had given us his word for two years,” Appert said Saturday. “That’s the way we recruit. We recruit personally. We have a good relationship. My deal is that we don’t mass recruit. I’ll give you my word that we won’t recruit another goalie. If you give us your word, it’s a done deal and not continue to explore options.
“He, obviously, decided to change his mind on that.”
Appert sounded more disappointed than upset with Dillon.
“We’ll be fine,” Appert said. “It’s Alec that I’m worried about. This program’s been around for over 100 years. This program is going to be fine without Alec Dillon. But it’s Alec that you worry about because he’s, in my opinion, he’s giving up a lot as a student-athlete, as a person, as a goalie and his development not only for hockey, but for his life.”
The Times Colonist of Victoria, British Columbia, reported that Oil Kings General Manager Randy Hansch visited Dillon and convinced him to take the major junior route. An Oil Kings spokesman declined comment, and said an announcement could come Monday.
Dillon was expected to compete with returning senior Jason Kasdorf for playing time this season. The other goalie is Sam Goodman, who spent part of last season playing for RPI’s club hockey team.