UBC Thunderbirds defenseman, Madison Patrick following a scheduled day off on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016.

UBC Thunderbirds defenseman, Madison Patrick following a scheduled players day off on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016.

VANCOUVER, B.C – If you’re a big hockey fan you will have no doubt heard of a few famous families like the Sutters, Howes, Hulls, Statsnys, Potvins, and in more recent times, the Staals, Bures, and Sedins. There is a new family on the rise that you might not be familiar with. The Patrick clan from Winnipeg, Manitoba is about to burst onto the ice as a soon to be household family.

Father, Steve Patrick, was drafted 20th overall in the 1980 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. He played 250 NHL games with the Sabres, New York Rangers, and Quebec Nordiques. His brother, James Patrick, had a 20 year NHL career with the Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames, and Sabres. He is now an Assistant Coach with the Dallas Stars.

His niece, Madison Patrick, is in her third season with the UBC Thunderbirds, and also a steady stay at home defenseman. Nolan Patrick is the middle child of Steve and Carrie Patrick. He is currently playing centre for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Early 2017 NHL Draft projections have Nolan ranked as the number one prospect heading into the June 23-24 NHL Draft in Chicago.

While her family is back home in Manitoba, Madison is starting to feel and see the buzz building around her younger brother. It’s nowhere near the level it will reach once the NHL season has concluded in April, but it’s certainly starting to get noticeable.

“A little bit,” admitted Madison Patrick. “I think mostly around him. I think there’s been a few different articles and things that I’ve seen about the athletes in our family as a whole. I haven’t been directly involved in too much of it, but it’s good for him.”

Since joining Coach Graham Thomas and the UBC Thunderbirds program for the 2014/2015 season, Patrick hasn’t been able to see her siblings, Nolan, and Amy, as much as she would like. It would be phenomenal if Nolan could continue his hockey playing journey in the National Hockey League with the Vancouver Canucks. It’s a massive long shot at this point, but something Madison would enjoy. If everything comes up Milhouse and the Vancouver Canucks call Nolan Patrick’s name, would he even crack the Canucks roster?

“I think that’d be really cool to have him out here,” said Madison Patrick. “That being said, he’d have to make the team. I’m only here for another two more years. For him to be out here in Vancouver…. I don’t know what the odds are for him to be out here while I’m still out here. It’s only two years, but if he were here next year, and the year after, that’d be pretty special.”

Canucks fans have been constantly glued to the NHL standings through the first month of the season, Vancouver sits 18th overall in the standings. A four-game winning streak to start the season had the fan base in a cautious optimistic euphoria. The one-line team has since dropped five-games in a row ahead of a six-game road trip starting tonight in Montreal. The five-foot, and seven-inch Madison Patrick, admits that she hasn’t been keeping an eye on the standings, yet.

“No (laughs), I don’t know. It’s a really early in the season to tell.”

The UBC Thunderbirds are off to a terrific start this season with a 7-1-0 record. Madison scored her first goal of the season on opening night against the Saskatchewan Huskies. She also added an assist the next night. In six games, she’s has contributed 1 goal and 1 assist, with a +3 plus/minus rating. The latest USports rankings have UBC ranked number one in Canada for a second week in a row. A pair of home victories over the previously 6-0-0 Manitoba Bisons has UBC as the top team to beat in Canada.

Patrick could have easily stayed at home in Manitoba and played for the Bisons Women’s Hockey team. However, she did not want that path and decided a trip to the west coast was the best opportunity to continue her education and budding hockey skills. The emergence of the UBC Thunderbirds hockey program was also a big reason why Patrick wanted to skate as a Thunderbird.

“I really wanted to have the experience of going away for university,” said Patrick. “I’ve been in Manitoba my whole life so I haven’t really seen much the west side of Canada. The schooling is great, we’re one of the top institutes in Canada. The hockey program is working its way up there, they had won a Canada West just recently, and now we’ve won another Canada West last year. I knew it was a big program on the rise and something I really wanted to contribute to.”

Madison and Nolan were both hoping they would get to see one and other when the Wheat Kings visit the Vancouver Giants on Friday, December 2 at the Langley Events Centre. Unfortunately, the Thunderbirds will be on the road in Alberta that weekend.

“I was looking at that actually,” said Madison Patrick. “Every second year they do their west coast road trip. I saw that when he was in Vancouver, I was hoping maybe we could meet up, but we’re in Calgary that weekend. It’s not looking like it’ll happen, but that would have been cool.”

What will be cool is a joint practice between the UBC men’s and women’s hockey teams, and the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, November 12, at The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. While Nolan won’t be skating with the Canucks, he could perhaps pick up a scouting report from Madison. She could very well be on the same ice as Nolan’s future teammates in years to come.

“I think that will be a really neat experience,” said Madison Patrick. “I think it’ll be good for us as a team to get some buzz around us as a team, maybe get some more people in the seats. I think overall it will be a really neat experience for us, the men’s team, and the Canucks to all get together.”

If the Canucks do somehow to manage to win the 2017 NHL Draft lottery and Nolan Patrick steps up onto the United Center stage and puts on a Vancouver Canucks jersey. It won’t be an easy task. A lot has to fall into place before that historic day. Vancouver will have to plummet in the NHL standings and fans will endure another season of misery.

As the calendar turns to November 2nd, the warmth of June, and the 2017 NHL Draft is a long ways away. Madison Patrick would love to be playing hockey in the same city as Nolan. If it means the Vancouver Canucks might have to hit rock bottom, so be it.

“Obviously they’d have to do poorly to get that draft pick,” said an astute Madison Patrick.”

Time will tell how the Canucks and the rest of the 29 other NHL teams finish the season and playoffs, and who knows, the Edmonton Oilers may somehow find away to win another NHL Draft lottery.

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