Kevin Patrick lived very close to the Union College campus while growing up in Schenectady, and attended Dutchmen hockey games in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Patrick later got an opportunity to be an assistant coach at Union from 1998-2001 under head coach Kevin Sneddon. Now, the two are together at Vermont, the Dutchmen’s opponent in today’s NCAA tournament semifinals at 2 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena.
“Growing up five blocks from campus and all the way back to me starting my youth hockey in 1975 when Achilles Rink opened, it’s a place that’s always been special,” Patrick said Thursday. “I couldn’t be happier for the success and what they’ve done over time. Growing up, it was a big-time Division II program that had success. I had good friends who were part of the transition to Division I hockey. I think it was some key decisions by some key people in administration to take the next step, and become a national power like they are. I couldn’t be happier for a program like Union that has that support and success.”
After leaving Union, Patrick spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Bowling Green. He then joined Wisconsin as an assistant coach in 2005-06, and the Badgers won the national title that season. After five seasons there, Patrick served as head coach of the U.S. Hockey League’s Muskegon Lumberjacks for two years. He rejoined Sneddon in 2012-13.
“Life’s been great,” Patrick said. “Two years [there]. It’s a great place to raise a family. It’s a great program to be a part of with Kevin Sneddon again. I couldn’t be happier.”
Asked who his father, Jerry, who also has strong ties to the Union program, is going to root for today, Patrick said. “In some ways, he may be neutral on this one.”
Union could hold a coaching alumni association meeting this weekend.
Besides Patrick and Sneddon, there are four other people with ties to Union. Providence has head coach Nate Leaman, who guided the Dutchmen from 2003-11, and assistant coach Ben Barr, who was a Union assistant from 2008-11. Also, Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll coached Union in 1978 after Ned Harkness left the program.
Quinnipiac assistant coach Bill Riga was an assistant under Leaman from 2003-08.
“It’s great,” Patrick said. “That’s why college hockey is so great. It’s also why it’s so intertwined. All you have to do is look at this regional and the number of people who have ties to Union College.”
MINGOIA IN GOOD SPOT
Former Union forward Trevor Mingoia is happy to be playing college hockey again.
Mingoia joined Providence midway through the season after he became eligible. He was with the Dutchmen in the 2011-12 season, collecting three goals and three assists.
But before the start of the following year, Mingoia decided to leave school. He played in the U.S. Hockey League with the Tri-City Storm, and then committed to Leaman at Providence. Leaman recruited Mingoia for Union, but Leaman left for Providence before Mingoia arrived in Schenectady.
“It’s great,” said Mingoia, who has four goals and nine assists in 24 games this season. “The whole team, the whole coaching staff, everybody’s been really supportive. That first half of the year being ineligible and not being able to travel with the team, I had great support from everybody. It made the transition very smooth.”
Coincidentally, Mingoia’s first game for the Friars was against Quinnipiac, the team they will face in today’s second semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
“He has a terrific stick,” Leaman said. “He has a very good hockey IQ. Those are things we like the most about Trevor. Recruiting him to Union was, obviously, a really good get to get him there. We have him now at Providence, and he’s been able to step in on our second line.”
Mingoia saw some of his ex-teammates Thursday, when Union practiced before Providence.
“It’s cool to see some old buddies,” Mingoia said. “I haven’t seen them in a long time. I couldn’t be happier where I am with Providence.”