In the case of defenseman Patrick McNally, he’s furthering his hockey education this week in Vancouver as he prepares to face different challenges, both on and off the ice, next season in university.
McNally was the first player the Canucks selected in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, going in the fourth round (115th overall). The native of Glen Head, New York has spent the past few seasons playing for Milton Academy in Massachusetts.
After taking part in his second Canucks prospects camp this week, McNally will be attending Harvard University next fall.
“I’ve been really looking forward to this camp since this time last year,” says McNally. “It’s a great week.”
McNally is coming off an outstanding season, one that saw him win the New England Prep Player of the Year honours. In 28 games, the 6’2”, 181lbs. blue-liner led his team in scoring with 22 goals and 29 assists. He helped Milton Academy to an overall record of 26-3-1, which was capped off with that program’s first ever New England Boy’s Hockey Title.
“He challenged himself last year to lead his team,” says Canucks Director of Player Development Dave Gagner. “He’s heading into Harvard with a lot of expectations from the coaching staff that he’s going to be able to jump in and play big minutes for them next year.”
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that after the year he just had, McNally felt much more comfortable and confident entering this year’s Prospects Camp at Rogers Arena.
“Last year I was a little more anxious and nervous,” adds McNally. “This year I came in knowing what to expect. I’m so excited to do it again.”
As he prepares to enter his first season of NCAA hockey, McNally knows there will be some big steps to take as a player and as a student. The son of a FBI agent, McNally knows he’s in for a busy year, both on the ice and in the classrooms of an Ivy League school.
“Obviously is going to be an adjustment,” says McNally. “The players are going to be a lot bigger, faster, and stronger. Hopefully I can fit in and play well next year.”
“He’s taking some classes at Harvard this summer while at the same time training at the school,” comments Gagner. “He should be acclimated to the surroundings by the time the season starts.”
Even though the 19 year-old defenseman will be a freshman with the Crimson this coming season, Gagner feels he’ll be put into a prime role to succeed in different areas.
“We believe he’s going to get an opportunity to play on the first power play unit,” says Gagner. “The coaching staff understands what type of player Patrick is. They’re going to give him some freedom to do that, as long as he’s responsible and plays hard defensively.”
Seeing as he doesn’t want to forego his college eligibility, McNally will not be participating in the Canucks Prospects Tournament in Penticton, B.C. September 11-15. However that doesn’t mean he’s lacking in motivation to one day being able to play with the Canucks.
“It’s not that hard to look around and see reasons for motivation,” says McNally. “We’re in the Canucks locker room. We saw them play all through the playoffs and get one win away from the Stanley Cup. That really motivates you.”
“Of course it’s going to be important, but it’s just another week to get better,” concludes McNally. “I want to work on my game and get one step closer to one day taking part in a full training camp and maybe one day turning pro.”