By Leif Skodnick
Special To The Sun Herald
BILOXI, Miss. – Sea Wolves training camp invitee Silas Gilbert knows it’s improbable for a 34-year-old soldier-turned-defenseman-turned-carpenter-turned-defenseman-again to have a shot at getting his first taste of professional hockey, but he’s going to try and beat the odds anyway.
He looks a little older, perhaps a bit smaller, but the life experiences the St. Albans, Vt., native brings to camp aren’t ones that most ECHL players have.
“I went to school at Salem State, and from there, I moved into the trades as a steeplejack,” said Gilbert. “I worked for 11 years as a steeplejack and then got into doing some carpentry in Massachusetts.”
Not exactly a common trade, a steeplejack is someone who scales tall buildings, most specifically church steeples, hence the name, to perform repairs.
“A couple years back I moved back to my home state of Vermont and started getting back into playing hockey while doing carpentry work,” said Gilbert.
While no longer climbing church steeples, Gilbert does put in a full day of work every day… before he hits the ice.
“On a normal day, I get up around 5:30, get to work by 7, put in a full day’s work with my friend, and then head home around 2:30, then go skate with the guys,” Gilbert says. “Then I try and go home to eat, get a cat nap, and go over to the gym and work out.”
Gilbert is one of the oldest players in an ECHL camp.
Most guys his age, even with the experience of four years of NCAA Division III hockey that Gilbert has, are content to leave their equipment in a hockey bag in the garage and leave the dreams to be chased by younger men.
“I think age is a number,” said the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder. “Conditioning and heart are a big part of what I’m trying to do here. It’s always been a goal of mine to try to do something like this.”