Almost two months ago now, I had the pleasure of sitting down for a Zoom interview with Maine Mariners forward Dillan Fox. Since our late June interview, the 29-year-old Hummlestown, PA native has re-signed with the Mariners for his second season in Maine. In the shortened 2019-20 season, Fox was awarded the “Unsung Hero” award for the second year in a row.
He was tied for the team lead in goals (23) and power play goals (five). He also is the franchise’s career leader in both categories through its first two seasons of existence.
This past season, he also made his AHL debut when he was loaned to the Hartford Wolf Pack for two games. When he first took the ice for the Mariners, Fox said he was nervous, but he just had to hop into it and take it as it comes. “I’m lucky how it worked out, and I’m really happy to be back with the Mariners for a third season.”
When asked where he got his start playing hockey, Fox spoke of being maybe four or five-years-old when he first took the ice. He grew up in Hummlestown, PA right outside Hershey and used to play in an outdoor arena. “Hockey isn’t super popular, but the Hershey Bears are pretty popular. Youth Hockey can be hard to find, so I was definitely the hockey kid growing up.”
Fox spoke of his parents always being supportive as well, saying, “You know, it can’t be easy having your almost thirty year old kid come home during the summertime, and it isn’t always the easiest sport to have your kid play. But my family has always been supportive of me.”
Local fans were very excited when the Mariners went up to St. John’s, Newfoundland to face-off with the Growlers who had won 18 straight home games that season. The Mariners had handed the Growlers three losses in the four game series. From reading Maine Mariners season reflections, most Mariners count their series in Newfoundland as the highlight of their season.
Dillan said that the best part of the trip (off the ice) was getting to spend so much time with the guys. “We had our rookie party and went out to a nice dinner with the team. St. John’s is a really unique place and I would have never gone there if it hadn’t been for the Mariners.”
Before games, Fox doesn’t have pre-game rituals like some might assume of pro-players. Growing up, he had quite a few, but right now, the forward doesn’t. In pro-hockey, you won’t last very long if you do. “You can’t spend so much time focusing on those kinds of things because there’s so much going on and not everything always goes to plan.”
He enjoys being a forward and scoring goals which he said was probably one of his favourite parts. With only ten forwards in the ECHL, forwards are often put into situations that you’ve never been in before. “If you’re a reliable player, you’ll be thrown into a lot of different situations, and if you’re called up to the AHL you’ll be prepared for that.”
If you’ve followed my previous articles, you’ll know that in one of my first, I covered various things that the Mariners organization had done for the community during the season. Dillan’s favourite thing he did for the community was when he went to the South Portland Fire Department and spent time with them, seeing what their day-to-day life is like. “Their jobs aren’t easy to do, and we’re really thankful for them.”
I was able to ask Fox a few fan questions I had submitted to me. The first question, I asked Dillan what the positives of the Mariners organization were that enticed him to return for a third season. Like a lot of Mariners, Fox loves the city and thinks that you won’t really find a much nicer place to play.
Now going into his third season with the team, he feels like he’s almost a part of the community. “The organization is top notch. I really enjoy how Danny (Briere) is really hands on, our coach (Riley Armstrong) is great. They’ve given me a great opportunity and I feel like I’ve got a lot more to give.”
While finishing up the interview, I spoke to him about how excited I was to be entering my first season as a sports journalist. Fox himself was pleased that there are people covering the ECHL because there isn’t a whole lot of coverage at their level. “There’s a really good hockey community in Maine. There are some cities where it’s not a big sport and there’s not a lot of educated fans. We really appreciate having people like you covering the team.”
All in all, I had a wonderful time speaking to Dillan Fox and look forward to seeing how he plays this season. Stay healthy and safe and hopefully we’ll see ECHL hockey return on the fourth of December.