Ryan Patrick's office at the Pegula Ice Arena is pretty sparse.
Sure, he's got a computer. In the corner, there are several hockey sticks propped against the walls.
A framed photo from the “Miracle on Ice” team sits atop his desk.
Of course, the office isn't where Patrick wants to be. Sure, he loves his job as hockey director for the Pegula Ice Arena. But Patrick is at home on the ice.
“Hanging around rinks is basically how I grew up,” Patrick says. “I can still remember watching my brother play. He said 'we gotta get you out there. I had been skating. I was 5 years old. As soon as I got out there with all the equipment on, I just loved it.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Throughout his career, Patrick, 35, has done it all. He's been a player, a coach, an instructor, a public relations person and an administrator. He's also lived all over the country. He's lived in New York, Minnesota, Denver, West Virginia and Pittsburgh.
But Happy Valley is home.
As a young man, Patrick was attending a prep school in Minnesota. His brother was attending Penn State, so he decided to check it out.
“My dad said, 'Why don't you go to Penn State? It's great.' I had been up here a few times visiting my brother and I loved it,” Patrick says.
Looking back, he can't imagine going anywhere else.
“As a student, I loved it. It was the greatest 4½ years of my life. I met a lot of great friends. Coming back as an adult … it's every Penn Stater's dream. Every person I run into says that. It is a dream come true to come back to State College,” Patrick says.
Patrick — who played for the Penn State's ACHA club hockey team as a student — graduated in 2003.
Prior to his return to Happy Valley, Patrick worked as the head coach at Sewickley Academy. While there, he also worked as the director of coaching and player development for the Pittsburgh Aviators' youth hockey organization and served as the program director for the Airport Ice Arena in Moon, Pa.
There, he designed and implemented on- and off-ice hockey programs for the Pittsburgh Penguins' Learn to Play Hockey program. He was also the owner of PV Hockey, which specialized in skill development.
At Pegula, Patrick does a little bit of everything — from answering emails to coordinating programs.
Make no mistake about it, Patrick loves his job.
“Basically, you get to go to hockey practice every day. You're playing with little kids and just having fun. It's what I enjoy. The second I step on the ice, it's not work. I'm having fun,” Patrick says.
It's one of the many lessons that Patrick learned from his father, Craig. Craig of course, is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
According to Patrick, his father's Hall of Fame speech really struck a chord.
“His dad told him, 'If you find something you really, really love and can make money doing it, you'll never work a day in your life. That's how I feel,” Patrick recalls.
Patrick, of course, is most famous for being a part of Herb Brooks' staff for the “Miracle on Ice” team that captured Olympic gold in 1980. In addition to coaching, he's also been a player and a general manager in the NHL.
Patrick says he doesn't get too many questions about his famous father, who was portrayed by actor Noah Emmerich in the 2004 film, “Miracle.”
“I don't get too many (who make the connection),” Patrick says. “Some do, some don't.”
According to Patrick, his father didn't see the movie for a long time. However, he had a speaking engagement at Disney World about the film, so he was forced to watch it.
Was it an accurate portrayal?
“My dad said it was pretty accurate. You're never going to get personal conversations exactly right, but they got the gist of the story,” Patrick says with a laugh.
As the hockey director, Patrick is always busy. Pegula Ice Arena has sparked an interest in youth hockey. Pegula offers a variety of hockey programs from those just learning to skate to those ready to play organized hockey.
Patrick is excited by the growth of the sport in the Centre Region.
“Hockey is becoming popular. It's growing in the state and now here. You get a kid into the arena for a game and he says, 'I wanna do that.' They watch a game and they immediately want to be down here doing public skate or taking a class. It makes things easy,” Patrick says.
On a typical day, Patrick is in the office answering emails about the hockey programs. When he's not in the office, he's on the ice.
“It's a lot of planning during the day,” Patrick says. “The afternoon and evening, that's the fun part.”
Patrick's wife, Colleen, is a 2002 Penn State graduate. They live in State College and have two children, Declan, 4, and Molly, 2.
“It's a lot of fun,” Patrick says of parenthood. “This is a nice place to work because they can come up here. It's a real family atmosphere.”
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