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Freshman standout

by Tyson Giuriato / Vancouver Canucks

Canucks draftee Patrick McNally just completed a solid freshman season at Harvard University…wait, what? Harvard? They play hockey at Harvard?

They sure do. Not only does the prestigious university produce American Presidents and Nobel Prize Winners, it has also produced a few NHL players lately as well. McNally may find himself on the list of former Crimson in the League one day, but he has some work to do before then.

The 6-foot-2 defenseman looks to be on the right track. In two seasons since being chosen by the Canucks in the fourth round, he was named the Boston Prep School Player of the Year while playing for Milton Academy, and followed that up this season being named to the ECAC All-League Third Team, ECAC All-Rookie Team, and was a finalist for ECAC Rookie of the Year.

He posted 28 points (6-22-28) in 34 games, helping the Crimson to a 13-10-11 record. The native of Glen Head, New York, exploded onto the scene with 17 points (4-13-17) in his first 14 games.

It takes great discipline to be a student athlete in the NCAA, the vigorous task of managing academics and athletics can be challenging at times. McNally was brought up on discipline.

His father Tom was also an Ivy League student athlete, captaining the football team at Columbia University. McNally looks to his father as an example for his student-athlete life.

“My father was always an enormous influence in my academic and athletic life,” said McNally. “He always taught me to work hard in both areas and stressed the importance of showing respect to my teachers and coaches. He also stressed doing things the right way and the importance of being able to look at yourself after a game knowing that you gave your best. Without his guidance I know I would not be in the position I am in today.”

McNally is a pure offensive defenseman that can rush the puck up the ice and quarterback the power play. However, he knows that to be successful in the future, he will need to be good at both ends of the ice and that's something he plans to improve on during his time at Harvard.

“I know that if I ever want to play at the NHL level my defensive game has to improve,” he said. “Over the course of the year working with our coaches, especially defensive coach Albie O'Connell, I believe I have become more conscious in my own end and more aware defensively. I hope to continue my improvement in the defensive zone and become as responsible as I can be.”

McNally will wrap up his first year at Harvard shortly, but don’t expect to see him frequenting the beach this summer. His pursuit of academic and athletic excellence will keep him busier than ever.

“This summer I will return home for about a month after school before going back to Harvard to take a class and workout with our strength and conditioning coach.

“Hopefully after a summer of skating and working out hard I can return as a stronger hockey player.”

Judging by McNally’s work ethic, they don’t just play hockey at Harvard, they live and breathe it.

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