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VILIO, ESTES AGREE TO DEALS FOR 2023-24

Tuesday, August 22nd
VILIO, ESTES AGREE TO DEALS FOR 2023-24

SAVANNAH, GA — The Savannah Ghost Pirates announced Tuesday that the club has agreed to terms with defensemen Elijah Vilio and Brandon Estes on ECHL contracts for the 2023-24 season.

Estes, 26, scored nine goals and added 15 assists in 62 games for the Ghost Pirates last year in his first full professional campaign. The Richardson, TX native played four seasons at Union College under Ghost Pirates head coach Rick Bennett, appearing in 112 games with the Dutchmen from 2017-22, earning a Third All-Star Team selection in 2022.

“He brought the same type of game that he played in college,” Bennett said. “He’s a steady defenseman that chips in offensively. He can play quality minutes and is very durable. You can rely on him.”

Estes turned pro following his senior year at Union and played ten games with the Tuscon Roadrunners (AHL). This past year, Estes skated in four contests with the Henderson Silver Knights. Prior to Union, Estes played junior hockey in the North American Hockey League with the Lone Star Brahmas and in the United States Hockey League with the Youngstown Phantoms. 

The 2023-24 season will be Estes’ second year in Savannah. 

“The support of this team is just so big; I don’t know if any other team in the league has a fanbase like ours,” Estes said. “That makes it so exciting to play in Savannah. Obviously, the city is so fun and there’s so much to do. It makes the area extremely special to be a player in.”

Vilio, 26, split the past season between the Norfolk Admirals and the Ghost Pirates, posting nine points (three goals, six assists) in 55 games. The Abbotsford, BC native played for three teams (Atlanta, Rapid City, Norfolk) during his rookie season in 2021-22, scoring 13 goals in 64 games.

"It was an easy decision for me," Vilio said. "I love the team, coaching staff, and the city. I have been training hard this off-season with the goal of winning a championship. I can not wait to be back in Savannah."

Vilio played collegiately in the BCIHL with Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, winning two championships and leading the league in points among defensemen during his senior year in 2019-20.

Vilio was traded to Savannah from the Admirals on December 29, 2022. He suffered a lower-body injury in late February of 2023 but is back at one hundred percent heading into his third professional season.

“I think his game will flourish once he gets more comfortable within the system,” Bennett said. “At times, he was one of our best defensemen last year. He really had an impact on the game. He’s a big strong guy who can skate and make some nice plays. That’s something we’ve been looking for.”

GHOST PIRATES SIGNED TO ECHL CONTRACTS IN 2023-24:

Cole Stallard (F) Darian Skeoch (D) Logan Drevitch (F) Tyler Drevitch (F)
Anthony Collins (F) Michael Bullion (G) Brent Pedersen (F) Alex Gilmour (F)
Brandon Estes (D) Elijah Vilio (D)    

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