Senior Spring: Kevan Kilistoff’s legacy leaves big shoes to fill
Having just finished his final season on the Dartmouth men’s hockey team, Kevan Kilistoff ’19 is now enjoying his spare time with friends and focusing on his classes. As the senior captain of the team, Kilistoff’s strong work ethic and leadership shows through his many accomplishments on and off the ice.
An economics major hailing from Langley, British Columbia, Kilistoff played a key role for the hockey team starting his freshman year. In his first year, Kilistoff scored three goals for the Big Green, two of which were game winners. In his sophomore year, Kilistoff led the team in faceoffs won with a total of 248, and as a junior, he was named captain by his teammates — a role he would hold for the next two years.
Kilistoff began playing hockey at a young age, but it wasn’t love at first skate. In fact, Kilistoff said that when his parents first started teaching him to skate when he was two, he “absolutely hated it.” But he eventually grew to love the sport of hockey, a staple in Canada.
“In Canada, it’s different. Everybody’s really into hockey — it’s kind of like a national sport there, so you are kind of expected to do it,” he said. Growing up, Kilistoff also played basketball and soccer but eventually chose to pursue hockey.
It’s common for hockey players who hope to continue their careers beyond high school to take a couple of years off to play junior hockey, and that is just what Kilistoff did. Following high school graduation, Kilistoff went on to play hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League for three years, playing for two local teams.
Eventually, Kilistoff caught the eye of the Dartmouth men’s hockey coach Bob Gaudet. Gaudet said he was immediately impressed by his maturity.
“He was a fabulous guy, really mature and a captain of his team,” Gaudet said. “He was already seen as a leader by his peers. And a really bright kid, you know, really smart academically.”
Kilistoff committed to Dartmouth’s hockey team and enrolled as a freshman in the fall of 2015. The transition was a big one to say the least.
“It was pretty tough because in Juniors, when you start out, you’re like a 17-year-old playing against 20-year-olds,” Kilistoff said. “But here you’re a 20-year-old playing against 25-year-olds.”
Kilistoff was able to rise to the challenge and made an immediate impact for the team, according to Gaudet.
“He was a center for us for four years and won big face-offs and was excellent on the penalty kill,” Gaudet said. “He’s a really, really strong guy, just his physicality. He was really tough in the corners, good skill level. He’s a guy I could count on in all areas of the game, and his details were just fabulous.”
Beyond his impressive skills as a player, Kilistoff proved to be a fantastic leader.
“If any problems ever came up, he was always the first one to try and help you out,” teammate Brendan Demler ’21 said. “He always keeps it calm, cool and collected, and I think that’s one of his best strengths. There were times when he was expected to get fired up, and he handled that very well too.”
Gaudet noted that becoming a captain as a junior is not something that is easy to do and is a true testament to the respect that Kilistoff’s teammates had for him.
Outside of hockey, Gaudet was impressed with Kilistoff’s selfless attitude. He noted that Kilistoff was always the first to volunteer for community service events and youth hockey clinics, acting as a “great role model for [the team] and for younger people in the community.”
It goes without saying that Kilistoff leaves some big shoes to be filled. When asked about how the team would change with Kilistoff’s departure, Gaudet said that he hopes the younger classes will follow the example that Kilistoff set for them.
“We talk about leaving a jersey in a better place,” Gaudet said. “And [Kilistoff] really modelled that, so he’s kind of passing the torch to the next group of leaders on the team.”
Demler remarked on other changes that might come with Kilistoff’s departure.
“We’re going to lose a guy who can lift a lot of weights, so that’s not good,” Demler said. “He eats a lot, so we’re probably not going to have to order as much food.”
Demler also mentioned that he would miss joking around with Kilistoff and would especially miss Kilistoff’s distinct laugh.
After reflecting on his four years with the hockey team, Kilistoff said that his favorite memory came from playoffs his freshman year when the team beat Colgate University in overtime. Kilistoff expressed his gratitude for the friendships that hockey has brought him.
“The people on this team are just lifelong friends I won’t forget,” he said.
Looking to the future, Kilistoff hopes to find a job in finance. He appreciates what the sport has given him but is “set on working on [his] life after hockey.”
One thing is for sure — Kilistoff has had an enormous impact on the Dartmouth hockey program.
“[Kilistoff] never thought he was too good for anyone or anything,” Demler said. “He put the team before himself every moment at school. He always put his best foot forward to represent the jersey well and put it in a better place moving forward.”