Ryan Pate has proven the importance of having a good Division 2 team in the ACHA. He made it to the Division 2 team freshman year and used that experience to make it to the Division 1 team, where he played with the likes of Chris Volonnino and Mark Zeszut.
Ryan Pate said that he started hockey a little later than other players at his level. “For me it was probably later than most. I actually started skating when I was around 6 years old.”
He grew up watching the Pittsburg Penguins, which led him towards playing hockey. “I grew up a huge Penguins fan, so that’s kind of how I got into hockey. Growing up my favorite player was Alexei Kovalev. He was number 27, so I decided to be number 27. “
Ryan said that his favorite part of hockey is the team aspect. He was able to meet some of his best friends through hockey.
When deciding his schools, Ryan had two schools in mind. “I knew Delaware was a great school and I was really between here and Penn State. When I found out that Delaware was going to have a Division 2 team, it was kind of a safety net.”
Ryan ended up on the Division 2 team freshman year. He called it a positive experience that helped him improve. “I think it helped me gain confidence when I eventually made it to the Division 1 team. I don’t know if I expected to make the Division 1 team, but I was definitely more confident heading into the Division 1 try outs that second year.”
He would make the team his sophomore year. There, he was able to learn from players who had already won a National Championship; what it took to win on the Division 1 level.
Last year, he got to play in the ACHA tournament in front of the Blue Hens hometown fans in the Fred Rust arena. “My favorite moment would definitely have to be that game last year in the ACHA tournament,” said Ryan on the game. “We weren’t able to come up on top, but that atmosphere was incredible. I just remember being in the locker room before it started, I could hear the people in the stands going crazy and it was just awesome.”
Fast forward to senior year, he is one of the few players left to have played with the players who have won the National Championship. He said it’s “very important” that he teach the younger players the little things that win games. “I think our scoring is mostly coming from our younger guys, but the older guys need to really set an example. We’re trying to kill penalties, making sure we get the puck out and get it deep and win games with the little stuff too. There are little things when you get to this level that you need to do in order to win.”
Ryan said that Rhode Island was their biggest rival. “Last year we beat them five out of five times, which was awesome” remarked Ryan on the two team’s rivalry. “We also had a pretty big brawl with them, so this year should be pretty insane.”
By: Tyler Fitzpatrick