On Friday, the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL announced they had signed forward Locke Jillson ’12 for the upcoming season. The Wranglers are the reigning Western Conference Champions of the ECHL.
“It’s exciting to know where you are going to go,” Jillson said. “When you first get to college, you know where you are going to be for the next four years … at graduation I didn’t know where I was going to be just yet, so it was kind of an anxious period. It’s nice to know where I’m going [now] and to be excited about a good situation.”
In his time as a winger for the Red, Jillson played in a grand total of 124 games, throughout which he managed to wrack up three trips to the NCAA tournament and an ECAC Hockey championship. During his senior year, he posted a career-high seven goals and three assists, along with a plus-8 rating.
After playing on East Hill for the past four years, Locke discussed how he will be taking some of his Cornell experience with him as he moves on in his career.
“I think that the way that we went about our business as student athletes [will be helpful],” he said. “You really had to stay on top of everything you were doing — having a schedule and being committed, because you’re sharing being a student and playing hockey. Getting to the rink early and working on things you need to work on, and staying after to work on them more cause that’s what I’m getting paid to do now. It’s nice because we were expected to stay at school but hockey was also our job. And now that hockey actually is a job, being used to it all should make the transition easier.”
Locke leaves behind a 45-point legacy — he earned 20 goals and 25 assists throughout his Cornell career. Additionally, he is the only Red player to have scored multiple goals in the Red’s three games against Boston University in 2007, 2009 and 2011. Each of these games were played in front of sold-out crowds at Madison Square Garden.
Playing in Las Vegas, Nev. is sure to be a huge change from Ithaca, N.Y. However for the Dallas, Texas native, there seem to be a lot of positives.
“It’s going to be nice because I am obviously more used to [Vegas] winters than Ithaca winters but it’s also much easier for my parents to get to,” he said. “It was … a full day affair for my parents to get to Ithaca from Dallas but the nice thing about Vegas is that there are flights from everywhere … It’s nice that my parents can go to work on Friday, then fly up and make a Friday night game.”
The Wranglers made it all the way to the Kelly Cup finals last season, where they fell just short of the championship in a five-game final series to the Florida Everblades. Back in July, Florida signed Locke’s classmate Sean Whitney.
“I went up to Boston to stay with [Whitney] for a few days [recently] and he had signed with the Everblades and I was getting ready to sign with Vegas,” Locke said. “It was funny that we were lined up to play with the teams that had met in the finals.”
Although the former teammates could face each other in the future, their teams are not slated to play against each other in the upcoming 2012-13 season.
“We were joking because our teams don’t play each other in the regular season this year so in that situation would be only way to see each other [on the ice].”
Locke continues to relish his Big Red memories, as he takes all he learned with him as he continues forward in his hockey career.
“The mindset of how you have to play at Cornell [will be helpful,]” he said. “You had to know how to play all three zones of the rink, and that is definitely still the case. If you can’t do that, you can’t play or move on — and moving on is definitely an aspiration of mine.”