Jack Wiessenberger – Staff Writer
Collegiate Men’s Hockey players are a different breed. Many started playing at a very young age and before competing at the college level, spent years preparing in the junior leagues. The level of dedication each player has to the game of hockey is immense. Hard work, persistence and a love for competition are traits all hockey players share. Patrick Gazich, a senior on the Gustavus Men’s team, is no exception.
Gazich came to Gustavus from Timmins, Ontario. There, he lived with a host family and competed on a junior hockey team. However, his roots are right here in Minnesota. Gazich attended the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield before leaving the United States to play in Canada. Gazich’s family truly has ice running through their veins. From a young age, he was influenced by his parents to play hockey.
“I have been playing since I was about four years old. Growing up, hockey and sports in general were always a big thing for my family. My mom was a world champion figure skater and my dad played a little hockey at St. Thomas so they both definitely pushed me into hockey,” Gazich said.
Coming from such a strong skating background, it is no wonder Gazich was heavily encouraged by his parents to pursue hockey. The support of his family led him to Gustavus, where he found a group of guys who encouraged him even further and eventually became like family.
“I love our group of guys. We have a very fun loving, laid back team. They’re all my closest buddies here and I am very happy to be a part of it. I love getting out on the ice and doing what I love with all the guys who I am super close with. It’s fun competing against all of them and rubbing it in their faces if you win,” Gazich said.
The hockey team has a bond not many other sports can come close to. As a senior, he has had an impact on the team for the last four years. Those around him have felt his effects as a teammate and leader.
“Pat is a joker at all times but works very hard on and off the ice which makes him an ideal teammate. One characteristic that makes him stand out is that he isn’t afraid to be who he really is‒a funny, down-to-earth, hard-working man,” Junior Dylan Gast said.
Having shared the ice with Patrick for each of his three years at Gustavus, Gast has gotten to know Gazich as a teammate and as a leader. The impact Gazich has had on his team is astounding.
“How he carries himself shows that he has confidence in himself first and foremost along with having confidence in us. It’s a small but meaningful trait to have as a leader. The way he discusses things in the locker room with teammates really shows that he respects them,” Gast said.
Gazich has taken the role of a leader on the hockey team. While he has had a major impact on his teammates, they too have had an effect on him.
“I think my time here playing hockey has definitely shaped me into the person I want to be. All of the guys here currently help with that and also the alumni from the past few years and our coaching staff. Seeing how the older guys conducted themselves on and off the ice when I was a [first-year] helped push me into realizing how I can become a positive figure within the Gustavus community,” Gazich said.
The tradition of strong leaders within the hockey team is one that goes back many years. Many players in the past set the bar for today’s leaders like Gazich. Outside of the hockey arena, Gazich has had impacts on the greater Gustavus and St. Peter communities.
“I help out with the Newman Center on campus which is a Catholic student run organization. I also volunteer and coach youth practices for the Minnesota River Youth Hockey Association. After graduation I am really hoping to get into coaching more. I am working on starting up hockey camps out of the Le Sueur Community Center for this summer,” Gazich said.
Gazich plans to return to Gustavus for a fifth year to continue building for his future both on the ice and off it. After a year that has been scarred by COVID-19, Gazich is anxious to return for what will hopefully be a more normal season next year.
“It has definitely been an odd year to say the least. Given all the time I have put into hockey and my family’s sacrifices to let me play, it would have been unfortunate to end on this note. It will be awesome coming back and hopefully getting a more normal year if everything goes accordingly,” Gazich said.
Gazich’s hard work, persistence, and love for competition are just part of what make him an outstanding teammate and leader for the men’s hockey program. Raised in the culture of hockey by his parents and supported by the family he found at Gustavus, Gazich has become a standout player and person.