From cut to captain, Patrick Sgarlata's road to Oregon hockey leadership
Third time was a charm for then-junior Patrick Sgarlata. After two years of being cut from the Oregon club hockey team, he finally earned a roster spot and the Oregon jersey on his back.
Now a graduate, the jersey he wears currently is a little different than before. He sports a number 10 on his back instead of his previous 26 and a “C” on his front. Sgarlata is now the captain of the team he struggled to make two years ago.
Making the cut was harder for him than most. With the exception of one year of varsity hockey his senior year of high school, Sgarlata hadn’t played ice hockey since his Pee Wee A years with the San Jose Jr. Sharks. But for him, being on the Oregon hockey team wasn’t his end-goal. Once there, he knew his work had just begun.
“I think the first thing I told coach (Rich) Salahor was it was awesome that I made the team, but that’s not really what my goal was,” Sgarlata said. “I wanted to be a big part of this team, to improve and to make an impact somehow.”
That mentality set the stage for Sgarlata’s future role with the club. During his second year with the Ducks, he became the team coordinator, saved their 2013-14 season by effectively handling the team’s $17,000 debt and, along with Conner Gordon, re-established a live broadcast system for the games.
“He was the only one who could do it,” said program coordinator Terran Donnelly. “He did a fantastic job. He got us out of debt. He pretty much changed our team for the better.”
His work as coordinator wasn’t the only reason why his teammates voted him to become captain. It was because of his discipline and dedication toward improving.
“Sgarlata isn’t the most skilled person on the team,” Donnelly said. “But he’s trying the hardest. He gives 100 percent of what he has 100 percent of the time and that’s what matters. It motivates me to skate harder.”
“He treats it like work,” he continued. “When he’s playing hockey, he’s very serious about hockey. Even when he’s not playing hockey, he’s always thinking about the team.”
Even though the players look up to him, Sgarlata thinks the focus should be less on him and more on the group. With a roster full of veteran players, there are many experienced voices that help guide the team.
“We have a really good group of guys who have bought into what we do as a team, so it’s almost like we have 12 captains in our locker room sometimes,” he said. “I don’t look at it as I’m special or anything, I’m just a piece of the puzzle.”
Despite dispersing his individual effect on the team by attributing his success to others, the fact remains: People respect him.
“He’s really that cohesive piece that keeps our team together and on track,” rookie Ryan Eberle said. “He’s always the first guy to say hello when you pop into the locker room and he’s always the first one off the ice to tell you that you had a great shift.”
“He is, more so than a leader, a good friend and a guy that everyone is really comfortable talking to,” Eberle said. “I think he is a perfect fit as captain.”
Follow Anne Yilmaz on Twitter @anneyilmaz
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