Every Night There Is A Story
"There he is, number 35."
A spectator made the observation that hitting the ice for the first time was Todd Gillingham, forward for the Colorado Gold Kings WCHL hockey team.
Suddenly, upon seeing big Gillingham skate from the locker room to the bench, half the crowd rose to take a peek at the team's most effective enforcer.
With a beard about a week old and a uniform that looked to be a size too big, Gillingham looked the part. A face that gave away his evil intentions, it was clear what Todd had on his mind. Sergei Deschevyy, Topeka Scarecrow defenseman, had roughed up a few Gold Kings in the first period. Gillingham was there to ensure that his fellow Colorado Springs icemen weren't intimidated.
It took about five minutes for Gillingham to hit the ice. Immediately the crowd rose to its feet, the first time all night. A majority of the crowd didn't even stand to celebrate the Gold King's first goal of the night.
The tough guy skated right to Deschevyy's end of the ice hitting everything that moved, with or without the puck. No Scarecrow was going to set a pick on him without being flattened by the 6-2, 210 pound tough guy.
Make no mistake, Gillingham is a legitimate hockey tough guy. He racked up over 200 PIM five times in his career and over 300 PIM twice. As a matter of fact, his most productive season was when he racked up a career high 376 pim for Los Angeles of the IHL in 1995/96. That year he also collected 26 goals and 24 assists in 69 games for the Ice Dogs.
The puck would be in one corner of the ice, Gillingham in the other and yet he had all of the crowd's eyes on him. He gave a few stiff checks to Deschevyy, who suddenly seemed to lose some of his bravery and penchant for roughing it up.
About 45 seconds into his shift, the Gold Kings goalie made a save and play stopped. Gillingham skated to the front of the crease to make sure no Scarecrow decided at that moment to take liberties with the Gold King stopper.
Suddenly, Deschevyy cross-checked Gillingham to the ice from behind. Gillingham got up, but at the urging of his teammates, skated off. That was the only shift he would play all night.
Nevertheless, Deschevyy halted his aggressive behavior and, until the last 50 seconds of the game, the match was played straight.
Big Todd Gillingham did what he was supposed to do. He gave his teammates a chance to skate unimpeded and free of intimidation.
Gillingham was waived after 13 games with the Gold Kings. He amassed 39 PIM, two goals and three assists and was a -5.