Gage Dill better be working on buying a winter coat and snow boots. His climate is about to change quite a bit, and he couldn’t be happier. Bring on the snow of Buffalo, as the Fort Myers, Fla., resident moves north to join the NCAA team at Buffalo State College, part of the State University of New York Athletic Conference.
The five-year USPHL veteran from Fort Myers, who just completed his fourth season with his hometown Florida Eels, committed earlier in May and he is looking forward to joining former Eels teammate Jared Figueroa this coming fall.
“I first started talking to Buffalo State during my first year on Premier with the Florida Eels in 2019-20. The coaches showed their interest very early into the season and loved my ability to make plays with the puck, as well as being a two-way player that hustles back to get on defense,” said Dill, who scored 101 points in 87 regular season Premier games with the Eels.
“The thing that interested me the most with Buffalo State was definitely the amenities that the hockey program has to offer. Being able to train day and night makes Buffalo State a place where I know I can go and become a better hockey player,” added Dill. “For academics, the SUNYAC is known to have some of the best school programs in the United States. School has always been a priority for me, seeing that anything can happen with life or hockey.”
Dill is especially excited to enjoy both the small community feel of the Buffalo State campus and the proximity to the urban amenities of restaurants and entertainment with the city closeby. He’s also happy to be going somewhere the Bengals coaching staff really wants him to be.
“Seeing the campus of Buffalo State was a big eye-opener. The placement of the campus is in such a great area where you can have a great time on campus, as well as in the city of Buffalo,” Dill added. “What made me easily decide to make my commitment with Buffalo State was the dedication of the coaches and their full interest in me as a player.”
Coming off a strong USPHL Elite season in 2017-18, he joined the Eels for the first time in 2018-19. Still just 16 to start that season, the Eels put him onto their USPHL Elite season, and he aced that test with 74 points, the second-best season for an Eel at that level. Teammate Jake Court set the record that year with 90 points. The two would continue to work their magic the next two seasons with the Eels Premier squad. He posted 40 points in two straight seasons, including over a stretch of 28 games in 2020-21. Three of the four seasons he was with the Eels, he also made trips to the USPHL Nationals, including reaching the Championship Game in 2021.
“After my first junior year, Frank Scarpaci reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in an interview with him to see if the Eels would be a good fit. After talking with him, he offered everything that a younger junior hockey player would want, which involved a great summer program that prepares players for the upcoming season that includes summer workouts and skates every week,” said Dill. “The head coach, Frank Scarpci Jr. and the assistant coach, Alex Sanchez, also played a big role in getting me into the program. They both showed dedication to every single player and would work with each individual on habits that would make them a better hockey player.”
During his 2021-22 season, he put up 12 points in seven postseason games, good for top 10 in the USPHL Premier for postseason scoring. He also got a five-game look with the NCDC’s Islanders Hockey Club, registering three assists in the call-up. The work he put in and the dedication to their players by the Eels all came full circle this past year for Dill.
“Every single person that has been a part of the Florida Eels while I’ve been there has been such a great help and I’m so fortunate to be a part of the Eels family that they’ve built,” said Dill. “They’ve done nothing but make me a better hockey player, as well as a person and I owe all of my gratitude to the Scarpaci family. I most definitely wouldn’t be where I am at now without their help.”
That includes, of course, getting his ticket to the world of NCAA hockey. Every second, every game must be earned of course, as it was in his hometown with the Eels.
“During this summer I’ve started to work on my speed as well as my strength. Frank Scarpaci Jr. has helped me with a workout schedule as well as a meal plan that will build my size and strength,” he said. “Coach [Steve] Murphy has also built a program that the players of Buffalo State and I have been following for the beginning off-season months that will help us all get ready for the year.”
He also may be found cracking open books about his chosen course of study as well in those rare moments he might make it to Fort Myers Beach.
“My academic interest, as of right now, is to pursue a career in business finance,” he said.
The USPHL congratulates Gage Dill, his family, the Florida Eels and Buffalo State College for his commitment.