• The apple doesn't fall far

  • Hockey is a way of life at the Hillman household.

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  • Hockey is a way of life at the Hillman household.
    Dad Scott is the coach of the Missouri Mavericks, who just edged Wichita three games to two to claim the opening round of the Central Hockey League playoffs.
    Mom Dalyn is cheerleader, chauffeur and No. 1 fan for both the Mavericks and her 8-year-old son Corbin, who is quickly becoming one of the top youth goaltenders in the metro area.
    And little brother, 5-year-old Guhnar, wows the sold-out Mavericks crowds when he gets out on the ice between periods and showcases his skating skills. He just started playing roller hockey and is Corbin’s biggest fan.
    “We would never put any pressure on either one of the boys to play hockey,” Scott Hillman said, “but they both love it.
    “I have to admit. I don’t know a lot about the goaltending position. So I can’t help with any specifics, but he has a great coach in Gerry (Festa, a goaltender for the Mavericks) and works with great coaches on his teams.”
    Corbin just wrapped up a season with the Kansas City Stars and is now playing for the Kansas City Jets, a travel team that will make trips to Illinois and Minnesota.
    “The thing I like best about hockey overall is meeting new friends and getting to travel,” said Corbin, a polite second grader at Chapel Lakes Elementary School.
    “And the thing I like most about playing hockey is playing goaltender. It’s my favorite position. I like to stop shots more than I like to score. It’s just a fun position.”
    While Scott and Dalyn think of members of the Mavericks as their family, they really get excited when Corbin is on the ice.
    “When I see Corbin out on the ice, I just get such a kick out of the way he plays,” Scott said. “He has all the mannerisms of the pros he watches on TV and at our games – the way he slides, his mannerisms. He has it all down.”
    Dalyn quickly agrees.
    “He’s like a little pro out there,” she said. “At one of Corbin’s games, a mom on the team came up to me and said, ‘I just love sitting behind the net to watch Corbin.’ He has studied so many goaltenders that he has picked up little pieces of each one of them.”
    The Hillmans wanted each of their boys to know that they could play any sport they selected, and that it didn’t have to be hockey.
    “I know I can play any sport,” Corbin said, “but hockey is the sport I love. The perfect day for me would be hockey all day – nonstop. That would be so much fun.”
    Page 2 of 2 - If he’s not doing homework or hitting the ice with his teammates, Corbin can be found playing hockey on the Wii in the family basement or playing roller hockey.
    “When I play on the Wii, I like to score goals – it’s more fun and more exciting,” Corbin said. “But when it’s real hockey, I want to be playing goaltender.”
    Scott Hillman gets to as many of Corbin’s games as he can, and when he has other coaching duties, he keeps up with the score through Dalyn’s texts.
    “When I watch him play, I just marvel at how good he really is,” the Mavericks coach said. “I’ve seen a lot of games where he keeps his team in the game. And that’s not just a dad talking – he really is good.”
    Corbin’s summer Mite team finished third in the league and made a strong run at the end.
    “We beat the No. 1 team in the league 5-2 and that was a lot of fun,” Corbin said. “Everything about hockey is fun. I’m a lucky kid to have a dad who coaches the Mavericks, and my coach, Gary Emmons, is a former player for the Blades and he is a real good coach.
    “And Gerry (Festa) is so much fun to work with in lessons. He makes it fun, but teaches me a lot, too.”
    While Corbin’s dream day would be “hockey all day – nonstop,” his dream career would be playing in the NHL.
    “I want to play goaltender for Washington,” he said.
    When dad overheard that comment, he was quick to add, “Maybe he can take me with him someday.”

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