CARDINAL - Cameron Dillon is one of those players that coaches like to have on the bench. One of those go-to guys that is willing to accept whatever role he is needed to play.
"Dilly can flat out play," says South Grenville Rangers General Manager Lucas Stitt. "He's always been a leader for our club, but the way he puts the team before personal accolades needs to be talked about. I believe he's capable of being a top point-getter in our league, but often accepts a shutdown role or is quite often moving back to play defense. His versatility is a huge factor in the depth of our lineup."
Wearing the "A" on his jersey, Dillon brings leadership to the rink every game. The Maitland native has been a part of the National Capital Junior Hockey League franchise since South Grenville launched the franchise three years ago.
"I've been here since day one," Dillon states. "It's been a really good time, being here for three years."
Fact of the matter is that his time with the Rangers has given him the platform to play some of his best hockey ever. A product of the South Grenville minor hockey system, Dillon hasn't always been a standout player.
"Towards the end (of my minor hockey years), I was playing midget house league, obviously not really doing so well. Then I finally moved to "B" rep. I had a good coach there and a lot of good teammates. I played with first year junior here (Rangers). So, I guess I was a bit of a late bloomer," he concludes.
Being with the Rangers from the onset, Cameron Dillon can relate to growing as a player and as a team.
After a rocky start in their first year of play, the South Grenville Rangers are now on top of the league. A 5-1 win over the North Dundas Rockets on Saturday, followed by a 3-0 shutout of the West Carleton Inferno on Sunday, earned the Rangers another four points last weekend. The victories improved their record to 16 wins in their first 18 outings. The Rangers are the top team in the league, six points better than second place Gatineau Hull-Volant for the league lead and 13 points ahead of their closest competition, North Dundas, in the West Division.
Dillon attributes the on-ice success to the culture off the ice for South Grenville.
"I think the dynamic in the room has changed for sure; a lot of guys buying into the systems," Dillon explains. "There are a lot of team guys in the room. If you have a roomful of good guys, it's going to be a positive experience and it's going to show on the ice...and show in the results, too. That's what we've really built on from the first year."
Consistency is also an important factor, especially on a winning team. Victory is never a given.
"So obviously we come to play and we feel like we can win every game. When we come to the rink, we want to go out and prove that we can do it, too. So it (winning) doesn't really result in making you lose the hunger. We're always ready to go. We're always ready to win," Dillon says.
That winning attitude has not gone unnoticed by local fans. By the same token, the fan support is not lost on Dillon.
"South Grenville hockey is awesome. It's like nowhere honestly - the way fans come and support it. The rink's been packed; I've never seen the Cardinal rink packed. It's just awesome to see. It's awesome to play in front of too," Dillon concludes.
South Grenville returns to action on Friday night, facing off against the Jets in Metcalfe, before returning home to the Ingredion Centre to take on the West Carleton Inferno on Saturday. Puck drop in Cardinal is 8:15 p.m.