Abbotsford Update: Training Camp - Day 3
Two years ago, Gaelan Patterson was entering his first professional season brimming with excitement.
He had just finished his fourth season with the Saskatoon Blades with 26 goals and 59 points in the regular season, both career-highs, and ended up playing three playoff games for Abbotsford, scoring one goal in the process. The La Ronge, SK native was hoping to build off that success in the 2010-11 campaign and, in some respects, he did.
Patterson's rookie AHL season saw him post seven goals and 21 points but injuries cut his year down to 61 games. However, the coaching staff were very pleased with his defensive play and utilized him quite a bit on the penalty kill.
Hoping he could remain healthy during the 2011-12 season, Patterson set off to try and move forward with his development. Unfortunately, his season was mired with inconsistency and he couldn't get the traction he had in his first year in Abbotsford. He played just 56 games for the Heat, scoring one goal and six points, and spent time in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzlies.
After getting advice from the Abbotsford coaching staff and Flames assistant general manager John Weisbrod at the end of the year, Patterson went into the off-season looking to build up his strength. He spent a ton of the time in the gym before the Flames development camp in July and he was absolutely dominant in the fitness testing in Calgary.
"I always focus on that quite a bit. I've been pretty in my fitness testing for awhile now but I stepped it up a little bit more this year. I felt good about it and did well."
He considers everything that happened last year a learning experience and feels his game has grown as a result of what he has experienced.
"When you have a bad season or bad couple games, you can sit there and be sad about or you can try to learn something from it," he said. "Near the end of the season, I gathered everything I learned and tried to put it down and think about it a lot over the summer."
Patterson is entering the final year on his entry level contract. He wants to remain in the organization's plans in the future and knows this season is his last chance to make a strong impression on management.
"I want to stick here and have a good season. There's obviously a lot of good players here and it's tough. It'll be a challenge but I'm looking forward to it."
The smile on defenceman Steve McCarthy's face as he stepped off the ice at the AESC on Monday said it all.
The affable blueliner is attending training camp on a try-out agreement and is loving every minute of his week-long audition with the club.
"It's been really good so far," he said, grin never leaving his face. "It's been a good pace, a good group of guys to work with. The work ethic, the pace, the intensity is great. It's only been three days on the ice but I really enjoy being here."
McCarthy hasn't had any experience with Ward or the organization but what he has heard through the grapevine has him excited about the prospect of suiting up for the club.
"The biggest thing that I like is the work ethic and attention to detail," he said. "As you get a little bit older, you realize those are the things that are going to make you stay in the NHL on a consistent basis. That's something you hear Bob (Hartley) talking about, Troy and the rest of the coaching staff are very detailed."
McCarthy, who has played 302 NHL games in his lengthy career, spent the last two seasons in Europe, playing for TPS Turku in the Finnish Elite League and Zurich in Switzerland - playing for Flames head coach Bob Hartley.
The Trail, BC product's time in Switzerland ended with Zurich capturing the Swiss Championship thanks to his third period tally, which came with just three seconds left in regulation.
"It was a great experience," he said. "Bob brought a North American style to Switzerland, which wasn't easy. We had our ups and downs. We had some tough times but I think the probably last couple months of the season we really started to play well as a team.
"We went into the playoffs firing on all cylinders and things kept rolling. It all came together ... where we started when I went over to where we finished was two completely different hockey teams."
McCarthy also played for Hartley for two and half seasons with Atlanta Thrashers, amassing 12 goals and 14 points.