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Norwood - Local Town Pages

Major Injury Leads To Motivation

By Christopher Tremblay
Andrew Gillis can’t remember a day that he wasn’t in skates and flying around the local rink. Having originally joined the Norwood Youth Hockey Program, he eventually found himself hooking up with a club team by the time he was around eight years old. He has continued to play club hockey to this date, the last five seasons he has taken to the ice with the Walpole Express. 
Although hockey has been a big part of his life, there was a time that the Norwood athlete didn’t know if he’d be able to play the sport at a high school level.
“I didn’t get to play my freshman year in high school as I had broken my leg battling in front of the net,” Gillis said. “I’m not exactly sure how, but something happened, and I knew that it was bad. My knee buckled and I found out that I had dislocated my knee cap and I wouldn’t being playing hockey anytime soon.”
Having been put on the sidelines just before his high school career was to begin, Gillis was totally disappointed incurring a severe injury.
“At first, I was really bummed out with the entire situation.,” Gillis said. “Why now. I was looking to playing high school hockey, so I was mad. But I came to realize that if I had to get hurt that this was the perfect time to do it. Yeah, it was my freshman season, but it also happened to be the year of Covid, so there wasn’t a lot of games to be played that year.”
Despite not being able to play hockey for eight or nine months, the Norwood native did everything his doctors told him to do so that he could eventually step back onto the ice and play the sport he so loved. That included a lot of physical therapy. During the time he could not get onto the ice, he found things to be slow going and very boring. Luckily, he suppressed that boredom by shooting in his garage.
“Not being able to play hockey was brutal, but it definitely gave me the motivation to work hard to get back onto the ice with my teammates,” Gillis said. “I wanted to get over the injury as fast as I could and hopefully be stronger than I was before I got hurt.”
While his thoughts were pure, it was not the way things were going to go. Gillis found his rehabbing to be tough and when he was able to get back onto the ice he found out that he was not where he had left off prior to the dislocation.
“That year was extremely tough,” Gillis said. “It was a mix of not having played the game of hockey for a very long time as well as playing it on a higher level. The competition on the high school level was something that I had never experienced and it took a bit of time to get used to it.”
It may have taken Gillis some time to get used to the high school game his sophomore season, but his teammates were playing some decent hockey. Norwood earned themselves a high number seven seed in the Division 2 State Tournament where they made it into the Round of 8 before losing to Gloucester, the number 2 seed, 6-4.
Having played center up until the time he actual got to play for the high school team, Gillis found himself moved over to the left-wing position. Although he cannot remember if it was his club coach or Norwood Coach Chuck Allen, he didn’t care about the move as long as he was on the ice playing hockey with his teammates.
In his newfound position, Gillis like to see himself as the one who sets up his teammates, but like most, he also likes to put the puck in the back of the net on a regular basis.
Having put all the work in during his inaugural season with the Mustangs, Gillis seemed to find his groove and had a breakout season as a junior helping his team once again advance into the State Tournament. 
Norwood went 12-6-2, and took out Marblehead 5-2, and then upset the number 1 seeded Tewksbury Memorial 5-2 in the next round before falling in the Elite 8 to Hopkinton, who eventually lost in the Championship game.
“It took a while for him to come into his own after breaking his leg and not getting to play his freshman year,” the Mustang Coach said. “He has become a great leader on and off the ice and does whatever is asked of him; he’ll play on the power play, penalty kill, and is just an all-around great role model for the younger players.”
Having the opportunities to improve his game lead to his junior break-out season. Gillis recalled that team opening the season, 1-4-1 before they got on a role to eventually cruise into the State Tournament and have success.
As he enters his final go-around with his Mustang teammates, the senior captain is looking forward to having one of their best campaigns.
“Being my senior season, I definitely want to win,” Gillis said. “My ultimate goal is to win the State Championship, but if that doesn’t happen the season it will not be a failure as long as we continue to work hard on a daily basis. Individually, I want to go out there and be a good leader on and off the ice. I want to be that role model, especially since my younger brother is on the team.”
Although it is not sure what Norwood will be able to accomplish this year under the guidance of Gillis and his other captains, they’re hoping to make it a rememberable one. Following high school, collegiate hockey is probably not in his future, but hockey is the sport he grew up and he still wants to enter the rink one way or another.