Andrew Gilbert isn’t a big points guy and he doesn’t need to make the flashy play for oohs and aahs. What he does is he plays the game defensively right, strong and smart. He’s all in for his Jersey Hitmen NCDC team and teammates, and not for his own glory.
This is exactly what the U.S. Military Academy at West Point likes to see - someone who serves others above self. So it should come as no surprise that Gilbert committed late this week to the Army hockey team for 2020-21.
“I started talking to them last year while I was with [the USPHL 18U Affiliate] Northwood School. They offered me last year, but it was a big decision for me so I took my time,” said Gilbert, a 2000-born native of Fairfield, Conn.
“West Point is a great school. It really sets you up to be successful in life,” said Gilbert. “It was a tough decision, but I’m really excited for it. The coaches are really easy to talk to and great human beings, for one. They also have a lot of experience and they have built a great program all around.”
He has similar praise for the Jersey Hitmen, the team which stands undefeated in regulation from the start of this 2019-20 season at 20-0-1-2 going into the Thanksgiving break next week.
“I think it will be a jump [to Division 1 hockey] obviously, but it’ll be a smooth jump. The Hitmen are a great organization, and they are setting me up and preparing me for college well,” said Gilbert. “I’m really excited.”
“Andrew is an amazing person and a coach’s dream in the locker room. He comes to work everyday, gives 100 percent and is never looking for accolades or praise,” said Hitmen Head Coach Toby Harris of Gilbert, the Hitmen’s 13th player on the team with an NCAA Division 1 commitment. “His high character and work ethic are two things that Brian Riley and the West Point staff are going to love.”
Gilbert is a true defensive defenseman. He leads the Hitmen in time on ice in the defensive zone, shorthanded time on ice, blocked shots, and he is second overall in defensive takeaways.
“I am a shutdown defenseman and I embrace that,” said Gilbert. “The Hitmen have been helping me complete my game in a sense. I need to work on skating a bunch and just round out my game. But I am comfortable in my role.”
He’s also excited to get uncomfortable real quick - taking on the challenges of being a West Point Cadet and discovering what his passion will be once he’s on the historic campus. He is not sure yet whether he will pursue a military or civilian course of study.
“I’m kind of keeping an open mind about it. Once I get there and go through the process, I will figure out what I want to do,” said Gilbert. “Right now, I’m keeping myself prepared for both.”
While he has one eye on his future with the Army Black Knights, he’s fully dialed in to the rigors of the NCDC - and always ready to put his team before himself.