By: Hamilton Bulldogs
06/21/2013 12:22 PM -
Rookie defenceman Greg Pateryn wasn’t going to let an injury derail his first professional season.
Pateryn lost 36 American Hockey League games to a fractured elbow, but upon his return put together a solid rookie campaign for the Hamilton Bulldogs and along the way earned a three-game stint with the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens.
Pateryn had earned one assist over his first six games when he broke his right elbow in a 3-2 shootout loss to the host Rochester Americans on November 2nd.
“I slid on the ice trying to make a play and my elbow pad moved a little bit and my elbow slammed on the ice,” Pateryn recalled recently. “I wasn’t really sure what happened initially I just felt a vibration down my arm. I finished the shift and tried to take a shot and my arm wouldn’t work and I knew right there that something was wrong. It was a weird injury.”
Pateryn said the extent of the injury surprised the surgeon who repaired his elbow.
“He told me he had never seen anything like it. Usually the tip of your elbow shatters, but mine broke right off which was a little strange. The surgeon did a great job putting it back together and everybody did a great job helping me with the rehab. I came back right on schedule. I got cleared to play sooner than I actually did and they just kept me back as a precautionary measure so I could heal a bit more.”
Pateryn returned to action on February 1st in a 5-1 loss to visiting the Grand Rapids Griffins. He recorded six goals and three assists for nine points over his next 22 games and finished the season with 12 points, including seven goals, in 39 games. Pateryn scored four power-play goals and was third in shots among Bulldogs defencemen with 78. His single-season goal total exceeded the six he scored in 142 games over four seasons with the University of Michigan Wolverines.
“I’m not really known for my offence so it was nice to get some points and goals,” said Pateryn, a six-foot-two, 219-pound native of Sterling Heights, Michigan who turns 23 on June 20th. “I think the coaches want me to be a physical defenceman who can contribute some offence and chip in on the power play if I have to. I think they’d like me to be an all-round guy who can play in any situation.”
Pateryn was one of five rookie blueliners on the Bulldogs who had to work diligently in their own end on a team that scored only 159 goals, the fewest in the 30-team AHL.
“We knew we had to be good defensively because we weren’t scoring as much as we needed to and to give us a chance to win games we had to keep our goals against down.”
Originally chosen by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Pateryn’s rights were acquired by Montreal on July 3rd, 2008 as part of a trade for Mikhail Grabovski.
Pateryn was called up by the Canadiens on March 7th and made his NHL debut two days later, playing 9:13 in a 4-3 victory over the Lightning in Tampa Bay. He averaged more than nine minutes of ice time in two more games before being returned to Hamilton.
“It was awesome,” said Pateryn, who was one of eight Hamilton players to earn a promotion to the NHL club for the duration of its playoff run following the conclusion of the Bulldogs’ season. “It’s something every kid dreams of and when you get called up for the first time it’s something you will always remember. You come to a team like this and you have your own pregame rituals, but you go to the NHL and you really see how professional the guys are, they are on a routine every day and that’s what separates them.”
Pateryn said he needs to add more consistency to his game.
“Collectively I think the coaches and I agree on that. I will be working on a lot of the little things. Guys in the NHL play 82 games a season the same way and that’s what separates those guys from guys in the AHL. Guys in the NHL know their role and know their job and do that every night. Personally, I think it was a pretty good season. There are some things that the coaches and I feel I need to work on. For my first pro season I think I did pretty well. I need to show the Canadiens I am more consistent with my game. I will be training as well as I can over the summer and show up in shape at training camp and show them I am ready.”