Patrick McGillis has never visited Queen’s University, but he already has the inside scoop on his future hockey home in Kingston, Ont.
“I have a ton of alumni in my family that graduated from Queen’s, which influenced my decision,” said the former Vernon Viper captain, who committed to play with the Golden Gaels for the coming season.
“(I have) a lot of relatives living in the Toronto and Ottawa area. It’ll be nice to have a lot of family that’ll come and watch the games.”
McGillis endured a second straight injury-plagued B.C. Hockey League season as a 20-year-old in Vernon. After missing time with a shoulder injury in 2010-11, a high ankle sprain limited him to just 31 games this season.
When healthy, the Calgary native was a reliable two-way winger, using a deceptively quick release to rack up 11 goals (five on the powerplay) and 14 assists. In 115 career games, he recorded 31-40-71.
McGillis originally hoped to land an NCAA Division 1 hockey scholarship, but the injuries kept him from showcasing his potential. However, he is thrilled to be joining the Gaels, whose blueline features former Viper Steve Tresierra. The Gaels went 13-13-2 for eighth place last year.
“I’ve been talking to a few schools for a while now and came to the decision that that would be the best fit both academically and hockey-wise,” said McGillis.
“NCAA would have been nice, but I’m still going to be playing CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport), the top level in Canada and getting probably one of the best educations you can get out of a Canadian university.”
Despite reverting to rookie status, McGillis, who will visit the Kingston campus in a few weeks, hopes to earn top-six or top-nine minutes at Queen’s.
“They don’t have a lot of new recruits coming in; only about five or six guys,” he said. “Every year will be a learning experience over there.”
Meanwhile, McGillis will spend the summer working at Predator Ridge, while implementing his new workout program (courtesy of the Gaels’ training staff) at Fitness West.
“The next few months is going to be a lot of hard training,” he said. “It’s a little more offseason specific training. This is a lot more strength training and explosion stuff.”