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Rampage grad Patterson putting in the work at NCAA D-I Niagara

 

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Every youth hockey organization wants a guy like Kevin Patterson to be an alumnus.

Patterson has represented the Colorado Rampage with distinction since the Colorado Springs native captained the 18U AAA Rampage team from 2009-11. Now a senior assistant captain at Niagara University, Patterson is playing defense and forward for the Purple Eagles.

“I take pride in doing my job to the best of my ability,” Patterson said.

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Niagara was just 3-21-3 as of Jan. 29, but Patterson isn’t complaining because he’s playing NCAA Division I hockey.

“You can’t ask for more than that,” he said. “Niagara fulfilled my dream. I grew up watching Colorado College and Air Force play. That’s when I decided I wanted to play Division I hockey.”

Patterson played in 27 games for Niagara as a freshman, picking up six assists. He got into 29 games as a sophomore, compiling five goals and six assists. He had three goals and four assists in 33 games as a junior, when he also was an assistant captain.

He has also made the most of his academic life at Niagara, a Catholic university located in Lewiston, N.Y., near Buffalo. Patterson earned a bachelor’s degree in finance in only three years, graduating in Aug. 2016 with a 3.93 grade-point average. He was named the Atlantic Hockey Conference’s Student-Athlete of the Year in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He now has a perfect 4.0 GPA as he pursues a master’s degree in finance.

That said, Patterson isn’t thinking about hanging up his skates and heading into the world of finance just yet.

“I want to play professional hockey,” he said. “I’ll think about stepping away from hockey after I’ve exhausted all my options to play as a pro. Getting an education is a very important part of playing college hockey, of course. I’m happy I’ll have that to fall back on after I give up hockey.”

Patterson’s grandfather, Harley Patterson, was a forward at Colorado College from 1954-58 and a member of the Tigers’ 1957 NCAA championship team.

“My grandfather still wears his NCAA championship ring,” Kevin Patterson said. “That inspires me every day.”

Bad knees ended Harley Patterson’s hockey playing days, his grandson said, but he had a successful career as a salesman for a cabinet company and is now in his 80s and lives in Colorado Springs.

Kevin Patterson said playing for the Rampage and coach Andrew Sherman prepared him well for the next steps in his hockey career.

He played for the Topeka RoadRunners of the North American Hockey League for two seasons after his time with the Rampage, totaling eight goals and 23 assists in 101 games and serving as an assistant captain in the 2012-13 season, before heading to Niagara.

“Coach Sherman preached process,” Patterson said. “Process means always being better today than the previous day. That mindset has been huge for me. Coach Sherman cares about you as a hockey player and as a person. He’s a big reason why I’ve gotten to this point in my hockey career.”

Patterson returns to Colorado Springs each summer and participates in the Rampage’s summer camp.

Sherman described Patterson as being all about effort, character, attitude and commitment during his days with the Rampage.

“And he was always grateful and appreciated his opportunities,” he said.

“Kevin is a leader. A special leader. I can see him being the general manager of an NHL team someday. He’ll be a success in whatever he does the rest of his life because he does things the right way all the time.”

Sherman is certain Patterson will play professional hockey.

“Kevin is tough; he’ll fight for a spot,” Sherman said. “He’s a hard-nosed player that every team can use.”

Photo/Niagara Athletic Communications

— Steve Stein