Photo by Rena Laverty
There is a special bond that pushes and motivates Patrick Giles every day both on and off the ice. That bond is the brotherhood of his teammates and wearing the colors of his country as a member of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
Giles especially felt it after the team won the Five Nations against Finland in February, standing on the ice linking arms with his Under-18 teammates.
“When I think about wearing the jersey,” Giles said, “I just think about how close we are and how we get to represent the flag and the stars and stripes every day. It’s the little things we do, not only on the ice but off the ice every day. Playing for this team gives you the ability to be a good role model both on and off the ice as well.”
That bond is very apparent this season as the U18 squad is finding that success on the ice. Personally for Giles, he is seeing that difference in his game.
“This year as a team, we are more confident and stronger than we were last year in regards to the competition,” he explained. “This has definitely helped our whole team. It has helped me as I am making more plays out there and all the guys are more comfortable with each other.
“Last year, we were still getting to know each other, especially early on. Now we know each other, even though we have a few new guys, they fit in well.”
Everything really started to come together for Giles and his U18 teammates during training last spring after the Under-17 season was over. It was physically taxing, but in the end, it was worth it.
“That is what you hear before you come to the National Team Development Program, you hear about the spring training and how rigorous it is,” he said. “Once you are in the thick of it, you realize how hard it is but afterwards, you really see the benefits.
“That is why the NTDP has had so much success. They are pushing their players and that is what is getting them to the next level. It’s the little things that Darryl Nelson [strength & condition coach] or Kirk Culik [off-ice conditioning coach] is working with you on. That is really what gets you to the next level. It’s the max all spring.”
Favorite NHL Team
Favorite NHL Player
Favorite Video Game
Lego Star Wars
Favorite Musical Artist
Favorite Netflix Binge
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Favorite Home-Cooked Meal
Salmon with broccoli and rice
For the 6-foot-4, 205-pound forward, this training played a huge role in his development, especially on the ice.
“For me, being a taller guy, I really had to grow into my body,” he said. “The off-ice training has been huge for me as it has for a lot of the guys here. Each day, you have to tackle with the mindset that you are going to get better than someone. This lift is going to help you out. That is one thing our team is really good at. Each guy has tackled each day and won the day as they call it here.”
It’s a big reason behind the success of the team this season. For Giles, it has been way more fun both on and off the ice.
“This year, the chemistry that we have is why we are getting those wins and those wins keep building up,” he stated. “We come into each Monday, which is the toughest day coming off a weekend, those days we are fired up from the win and we are pushing ourselves more because of it. It’s more fun and is definitely helping with our confidence.”
One of the most special wins was in February when the U18s captured the Five Nations at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth. It was a very special moment for Giles, especially after the struggles last year.
“We come into each Monday, which is the toughest day coming off a weekend, those days we are fired up from the win and we are pushing ourselves more because of it. It’s more fun and is definitely helping with our confidence.”
“We were playing arguably one of our biggest rivals out there in Russia. If they won the game, they would win the tournament and we knew that we had to win that game,” said Giles. “They were going to give their all and we were going to give our all. That game was the tournament for us. It was really the turning point for our whole season. The energy we got from that and the confidence we got from that game was huge. We had to carry it over and win the next game against Finland. It was a good tournament overall and really helped our team come together.”
That win set up the special moment of Giles standing with his brothers, arm-in-arm, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“For me, that was my first time doing that,” he said. “I had only seen it on TV and I get chills from that. It was great to do that with the guys next to me and it was such a special feeling. I’m so glad that I got to live it and I really appreciate it. I’m hoping we can do it again over in Russia [at the U18 Worlds].”
Photo by Rena Laverty
The U18 Worlds will be the final international tournament for Giles and his teammates. He knows it will take a team effort to have success on the ice and preparation will be the key.
“We need to keep doing what we are doing,” he said. “We need to win the day. Every day, we know that we need to out-compete the other countries. We know they are working hard and we need to work hard too. We are there to play hockey and ignore the other distractions.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.