Monday, May 28, 2007

Pat White

(The following story was written by me for the Research on Ice newsletter last March)

Grand Rapids forward Pat White was faced with a number of different options for his future after leading Grand Rapids to the Minnesota Class AA championship game last season. He could have spent his senior year of high school in Ann Arbor Michigan, playing for the National Team Development Program and wearing a Team USA jersey, or he could have chosen to head to the USHL where he would play more games and face stronger competition. But for White, the decision to stay in Grand Rapids for his final year of high school was an easy one.

“That game right there is the best example of why I came back for my senior year,” said White, after scoring two goals to lead his team to a victory over the tournament’s top seed, Edina in front of a sellout crowd at the Xcel Energy Center. “There’s nothing more that I could ask for than just playing one hockey game out there. I’d give anything in the world to for it. I don’t think I’m ever going to forget it. All my friends and buddies are in the locker room, we’ve been together all the way together all the way and I don’t think I could leave them.”

Things haven’t been always been as fun and rewarding for White this season. White suffered a sprained ankle in a preseason scrimmage, which forced him to play the first part of the season at less than his full effectiveness, before sidelining him for a few games while he tried to let his ankle heal.

“It doesn’t get much more frustrating than that. You sit up in the stands and you watch your team win, and you watch your team lose. When the team wins you want to be out there to celebrate with them, and when the team doesn’t come out on top you’re feeling the exact opposite. I want to contribute to the team, and I want to help them win hockey games.

White’s ankle now feels better, to the point that it no longer has to worry about it on the ice.

“I guess I’d say it’s 100% now. I hope it is, anyway. I’m certainly not thinking about anymore.”

White’s return to health has been a big boost to Grand Rapids. Some losses in the first half of the season while White was battling injury made Grand Rapids the third seed in Section 7AA, but with White at full strength, Grand Rapids knocked off second seeded Duluth East in overtime, with White scoring the game-winner, and then beat top-seed Cloquet in the final, where White added another goal. After defeating Edina, Grand Rapids proved themselves as one of the best teams in the state with White healthy.

Once his high school season is over, White will still end up with the opportunity to wear a Team USA jersey. White will join the US U18 team that will travel to Finland for the World Championships.

When asked which he would he would prefer, if he had to choose between winning a state title and winning a gold medal, White responded, “I don’t know if I could choose off the top of my head. Either one would probably feel better than anything else.”

If White continues his stellar play, he just might get both.