By: Hamilton Bulldogs
06/16/2013 7:51 AM
Patrick Holland is hoping to add a dash of Brandon Gallagher to his game next season.
Holland and Gallagher were roommates and linemates with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs this season and longtime junior foes in the Western Hockey League where they were offensive forces for the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants, respectively.
Gallagher recorded 20 points in 36 games with the Bulldogs before joining the Montreal Canadiens in January at the conclusion of National Hockey League lockout and his strong play earned him a nomination for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.
“Seeing Gallagher go up and do so well was great,” right winger Holland said recently. “It’s a big step up but it’s possible and Gallagher showed us all that. He’s the type of player you could see would be a good pro when he was in junior. He is so gritty and tenacious, that’s probably the best way to describe him. He never gives up on pucks and is always battling. He is a smart player with good skills, but his tenacity is unmatched by anybody I have seen. It was special to watch that here every game. Holland added, “I watched him creating plays in the NHL and I saw that as something I wanted to add to my game. Anybody can see we are different players, but there are things you can pick up from different players to add to your game and I have been trying to add some things from his game to mine.”
A 21-year-old native of Lethbridge, Alberta., Holland was originally chosen by the Calgary Flames in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft but he was acquired by the Canadiens on January 12, 2012 as part of the deal that saw Michael Cammalleri head to the Calgary Flames for Rene Bourque.
Holland skated in 69 games with the Bulldogs in his rookie season and finished fourth in scoring with 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points. He collected 20 points, including seven goals, after Christmas.
“There were a lot of differences and it took a while to adjust. I thought I was lot more comfortable on the ice after the all-star break from where I had been. That enabled me to get my production up. Being put on a line with Joey Tenute helped quite a bit. I am pretty excited to see what I can do when I come back for my second season. This was a learning year. I am hoping to come back and make a bigger impact.”
The Bulldogs were the lowest-scoring team in the AHL and Holland said he felt the pressure to produce offensively.
“We knew offence was going to be an issue every game. Being on one of the top lines and power play you know it’s basically your job to score and we weren’t doing that. All you can do is go out and work hard and try and make plays. There were games where we were able to do that and generate a lot of chances and there were games where we couldn’t score or get a lot of bounces.”
Holland had been a productive player in the WHL, registering 63 goals and 145 assists for 208 points in 205 games over five seasons with the Tri-City Americans.
“I don’t know if I was too frustrated here from a production standpoint, mainly because it was my first season and I didn’t know what to expect. I gauged a lot of my games by how I felt I played rather than how many points I had. In my first season in the WHL I didn’t put up a lot of points but that improved as I went on and I am hoping that’s what happens here.”
Holland said he felt his defensive game improved as the season progressed.
“I always felt I was a good defensive player in junior, but you are making a big step up to the AHL and it’s tougher to make the transition defensively. It took a while to get used to it, but I got more comfortable with it and began killing penalties at the end of the season. I feel I can continue that role next season too.”
The six-foot, 175-pound Holland said the physical nature of the AHL became apparent in his freshman campaign.
“In the WHL you play so many minutes as a top forward that you are almost supposed to rest at times and conserve your energy. At this level the ice time is so spread out that you have to go hard every shift. That takes a toll, but the trade off with less ice time is you are working harder when you are out there. There were times when I was outmuscled, but that happens and that is what the offseason is for." Holland added, “I was one of the weaker players when I went to junior but I never felt that inhibited me. But this season was quite a bit different. There are some big bodies here and in the NHL the guys are even consistently bigger so if I want to make that jump, which we all do, that is a major area I need to improve on.”
Holland said he will be busy in the summer preparing his body to better handle the rigours of an AHL season.
“We go hard every summer and I need to focus on some other areas. It’s progress and every summer you need to take yourself to a higher level. I think I learned how to better manage my body during the season. I felt by the end of the season I had lost quite a bit of muscle mass and I could feel it on the ice, especially in my legs. The skating was quite harder near the end of the season. It’s tough because you are playing and practicing so often that you can’t really stay in the gym and keep yourself in top shape. It’s an experience thing and you have to manage it.”
The Bulldogs may not have qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs, but Holland saw a bright side to a campaign that saw so many new faces in the lineup.
“The season didn’t end the way any of us wanted it too, but this is a development league and I think with such a young team there wasn’t much for us to do but develop and I think we did a good job. You saw guys go up to the NHL and performed well and that’s what it’s all about.”