Former BG assistant now coaching at UW

The coaching game is all about positioning yourself for the future and moving up when good opportunities present themselves.

That is what former BGSU associate head coach Kevin Patrick has done this season. After spending three years on the BG hockey staff, he accepted the vacant assistant head-coaching job at the University of Wisconsin to take his next step in advancing as a young coach.

“This was a great opportunity to take the next step,” said Patrick, who joined the staff on Aug. 23. “Wisconsin hockey is one of a handful of schools in the country that has the tradition, history and resources to compete on the national scene year in and year out, so it was a great opportunity and great next step in my development.”

So far, all Patrick has done for the Badgers is help them to a record of 20-7-2 which has them ranked third nationally and just two points out of the lead in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. It’s been a position that has been tough to come by for fourth-year coach Mike Eaves, as his team has been just one step behind the other elite teams in the WCHA in his first three seasons.

“He’s definitely been a factor in it [the success], there’s no doubt,” Eaves said of Patrick. “He’s so good with our players in terms of being to relate to them and speak to them and convey to them what we’re trying to do in our drills or our systems, and I think that’s very important.”

Patrick was also a big part of the success that BG coach Scott Paluch had in his first three years on the job as Patrick and Ron Fogarty joined Paluch in the 2002-03 season. In their first year guiding the Falcons, the team won only eight games, but last season the duo helped the Falcons earn home ice in the playoffs for the first time in over a decade and had a 16-win season.

“I think he [Patrick} and Ronnie [Fogarty], when they first got here really took so much stock in what was going on here,” Paluch said. “They really hit the recruiting trails hard, saw a plan and stuck to it and I thought they’re combined work ethic to what we were doing and what we wanted here got us off to a tremendous start in terms of bringing in the types of kids we have here now.”

Ironically, Patrick was out on the recruiting trail when he got the call from Eaves about the job, as his ability to recruit was one of the biggest strengths that he was looked at for.

“He brings to our office knowledge about college hockey in terms of recruiting the game itself,” Eaves said. “He’s been in the college game almost a decade now and for me particularly, where I’m just getting back into the game after being at different levels, I thought that would be a real good thing and it has proven to be.”

Paluch also saw Patrick’s ability to recruit as being something that stuck out when he was a coach in the United State Hockey League and with Union College prior to joining his staff.

“I always thought he had a unique eye,” Paluch said. “I think he saw little things or different things in players that not everybody can pick up.”

Recruiting also played a big part in the Badgers getting Patrick as Wisconsin assistant coach Mark Osiecki made a push to steal Patrick away after former assistant coach Troy Ward left. Osiecki had coached with Patrick at Green Bay in the USHL and also has had experience working with coach Paluch in the past as coaching ties played a big part in the move.

“Obviously, I have had experience working with Mark [Osiecki] before so that made the transition easy for me,” Patrick said. “Also Mike [Eaves] has been very good in welcoming me into the fold and giving me responsibility.”

Working with the defensemen is Patrick’s specialty as he was a defensemen at Notre Dame where he graduated from in 1992 and captained the team in his final two seasons.

At BG, he helped coach defensemen such as Kevin Bieksa and Jonathan Sigalet. Now at Wisconsin he is helping to coach one of the more talented defensive corps in the country. His other duties include being in charge of the team’s academics and doing the pre-scouting work along with being the main recruiter.

Though Patrick is enjoying the team’s success and is excited about his new position, he says it wasn’t an easy step to make.

“I loved Bowling Green, I loved the university there,” he said. “Both my boys were born in BG and it was home. So it’s never easy and that’s the challenge with trying to develop your career is at times you have to take a step and leave a place you really enjoy.”

“I still talk to Ron [Fogarty] and Scott [Paluch], actually bumped into Fogs [Fogarty] a few times on the road,” he continued. “They’re two good friends and two guys I enjoyed very much working with.”