Columns/Opinion, Kerri Kosten, Local Sports, Other Local Sports, Sports

Morgantown’s Patrick finding success sticking with hockey

MORGANTOWN — When he was 3 years old, Ryan Patrick decided to try a learn-to-skate program offered by the Morgantown ice rink.
“We had a few family friends that were already giving it a shot, so they asked us to join them,” Patrick said.
That began his love of hockey.
Patrick first played on a travel team out of Canonsburg, Pa., called the Southpointe RinkRats.
“This kick-started my career as my coach Steve Wheeler (later the coach for WVU’s club team) provided me the opportunity to play around the country and showcase my game,” he said.
Though he is a Morgantown native, Patrick attended Morgantown High School only his freshman year. Through playing travel hockey in Pittsburgh, he was recruited to play hockey and attend school at the prestigious Culver (Ind.) Academies. He repeated his freshman year there and graduated in 2016.
While at Culver, Patrick got to play four years at the highest level in the country, known as Tier 1 AAA.
“It was truly an unforgettable experience as well as a humbling experience,” he said. “I developed my game exponentially while playing there.”
“I also had the opportunity to compete for two national championships and play alongside and against many Division I hockey players, NHL prospects and, surprisingly a handful of kids who are now playing in the NHL.”
Patrick spent the last two seasons with the Philadelphia Rebels, where he was team captain. The Rebels are members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
He was voted the team’s 2017-’18 most valuable player.
Patrick finished the regular season second on the team with 48 points (22 goals and 26 assists) in 59 games. He is third on the Rebels’ all-time points list, with 80 (32 goals and 48 assists). He is tied for second in all-time games played with the franchise, with 118. He received several weekly honors during the season from the NAHL, including being named Star of the Week twice and honorable mention four times.
“Playing Junior Hockey for the Philadelphia Rebels was an unbelievable experience,” Patrick said. “Playing under coach Joe Coombs, I really learned what it was like to be a professional in the hockey world. I practiced typically four days a week from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (a mix of on-ice practice, workouts and video sessions) with two to three games each week.”
“In total, we played a 60-game regular-season schedule with a possible four rounds of playoffs. Over my two years in Philadelphia, we were regular-season champions once, division champions twice and played for the national championship (Robertson Cup) once. Philadelphia will always have a special place in my heart.”
Patrick also got to participate in the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament in February, where he had an assist in two games.
“The Top Prospects Tournament was an awesome achievement for me this past year,” he said. “I got the opportunity to play in front of multiple Division I and Division III coaches and not to mention a few NHL scouts.
“It was an incredibly high level of hockey that allowed me to square up with the best in the NAHL.”
Playing with the Rebels gave Patrick the opportunity to travel all over the country.
“In the East Division alone, I played in Boston, North Jersey, Johnstown and Wilkes Barre,” he said. “However, my favorite trip was to Alaska, where we played two teams from our league over the course of two weeks. We first played in Kenai River and then in Fairbanks. That was an unforgettable experience for many reasons — the negative 60 degree weather not being one of those reasons.”
Patrick attributes his success to choosing to play in Pittsburgh.
“While playing for the Southpointe RinkRats, I traveled around the country playing in tournaments and against other teams all with the same intention of developing players to make it to the college and professional ranks,” he said.
Patrick said his parents also played a large role in his success.
“My parents were crucial in making this possible as they traveled with me three days a week to Pittsburgh for practices and workouts, and then on the weekends to different destinations across the country,” he said. “It was a lot of sacrifice for everyone in my family, but it was something I was good at and loved, so it was well worth it.”
Patrick said Morgantown and the big city do not have much in common.
“Philadelphia is … traffic constantly, four major professional sports teams, endless amounts of shopping and, of course, Philly cheesesteaks,” he said. “Morgantown, on the other hand, is a small town built around the university with no professional sports teams and set in more of a rural setting.
“However, the contrast between Morgantown and Philadelphia is great for me because I get the best of both worlds.”
Adjusting to the big city life was not difficult for Patrick.
“I have traveled and spent time in a lot of other big cities for hockey and vacation, so Philadelphia wasn’t a huge change,” he said. “The hardest thing for me was dealing with Philadelphia Flyer fans and Eagle fans, since I’m such a big Penguins and Steelers fan.”
But there was one thing Patrick did not like about living in Philadelphia.
“I do have to say not being able to attend Mountaineer football and basketball games was not enjoyable,” he said.
Patrick recently committed to play hockey at Division III Stevenson University, located in Owings Mills, Md. (a suburb of Baltimore). The Mustangs are members of the Eastern College Athletic Conference West (ECAC West).
Choosing to attend Stevenson was a tough decision for Patrick.
“I didn’t have any Division I offers but I was being recruited by over 25 Division III schools,” he said. “At the end of the day, Stevenson’s proximity to big cities (Baltimore, D.C., and Philly), being only three hours from Morgantown, their commitment to growing a hockey program, and their interest in me as a player and student is what led me to commit to Stevenson.
“I’m undoubtedly looking forward to the upcoming hockey season and having the opportunity to bring back to Stevenson a national championship,” he said.
Patrick plans to study business communication with a professional minor in real estate. After graduation, he hopes to have the opportunity to play hockey professionally in either the U.S. or Europe. He would also love to have a few job opportunities in or around Baltimore, Washington, D.C., or Philadelphia relating to journalism, broadcasting or sports management.
In his spare time, Patrick likes to travel or spend time at the beach.
“Anything to relax for a little,” he said.