By Dave Leaderhouse
Benjamin Patt knew at an early age that he wanted to combine hockey and education for as long as he could and now that his junior career is behind him he has a great opportunity to continue with that goal as the 21-year-old recently committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth to play with the Bulldogs beginning in the fall.
Patt has been on the move pursuing his dream for a number of years as the Brampton, Ont., native first left home at the age of 16 to attend the Canadian International Hockey Academy in Rockland, Ont., before completing his high school education while competing at the PEAC School for Elite Athletes in Toronto.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound netminder then faced a tough decision: go the major junior route and forfeit any opportunity for a NCAA scholarship or continue playing at a level where that opportunity could continue to be a possibility in the future.
Patt ultimately chose the latter and ended up in Wilcox, Sask., as an 18-year-old where he played 13 games with the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League during the 2014-15 campaign.
Patt posted respectable numbers during that rookie junior season – 2.25 goals-against average and .920 save percentage – but he headed east the following year and toiled with the Woodstock Slammers of the Maritime Junior Hockey League where he appeared in 24 games and had a 2.15 GAA and .930 save percentage.
The past season saw Patt begin the year in Woodstock, but when Notre Dame’s starting netminder, Jordan Greenfield-Flemon, received a scholarship opportunity of his own with the University of Alaska at Christmas time, the Hounds brought him back and Patt was spectacular in helping the team secure the top Wild Card spot and finish the season with a 26-23-7-2 record.
Patt played in 18 games with Notre Dame upon his return and his 2.39 GAA and .925 save percentage were among the league’s best. In the playoffs, Patt played in every game recording a 2.69 GAA to go with a .920 save percentage as the Hounds knocked off the two-time defending league champion Melfort Mustangs in the Wild Card round before falling in five games to the Flin Flon Bombers in the quarter-finals.
Notre Dame head coach Clint Mylymok had this to say about Patt on the Hounds’ website when saluting him for his accomplishments.
“We are more than excited for the opportunity Ben has created for himself,” says Mylymok. “The one thing that really stands out, that all young players can learn from, is his competitive drive and respect for the game.”
“Not only is Ben a talented goaltender, but he is even a better person,” added Mylymok.
Patt responded on the same website with these comments.
“The chance to play at Notre Dame is one that cannot be overlooked,” began Patt. “The amazing support and guidance I received from the Notre Dame staff, especially head coach Clint Mylymok, is second to none.”
“The emphasis on putting student athletes in the best possible position to achieve their athletic and academic aspirations is very evident,” added Patt. “I look forward to my development as a scholar and athlete as I continue my hockey career with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.”
Dreams do come true and Patt has proven that hard work, determination and perseverance pays off. The road might have some twists and turns, but if the focus is clear then everything generally works out.
The SJHL congratulates Patt and wishes him continued good luck in the future.