Last season, Patrick McNally was one of the top scorers among defenseman in the ECAC. But now the Harvard defenseman looks to round out his game and establish himself as one of the top, two-way defenders in college hockey.
With increasing time on the power-play McNally was able to thrive in the offensive zone last season. He and his power-play partner, Danny Biega, helped create the top collegiate power-play unit in the country. McNally ranked third in points among defenseman in the ECAC. He had 28 points and only trailed Biega (32) and Union’s Mat Bodie (29). McNally was also the runner-up for ECAC Rookie of the Year honors.
“Pat had an impressive freshman season for us last year,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “He was a big reason our power-play was No. 1 in the country. He is a guy that can impact the game in both ends because he can be a force in both the offensive and defensive zone.”
The Vancouver Canucks prospect has had a lot of help from Danny Biega on the power-play, and under the guidance of Biega, McNally is even more comfortable on the power-play now.
“I came in as a freshman, and I got put on the power-play right away,” McNally said.
“It was good for me to be on the power-play, but it was also really tough. I have to thank Danny Biega a lot because he really helped my play. I made a lot of mistakes as a freshman being nervous, but he was always very patient with me. He showed me what to do out there on the power-play, and it has really worked out well for the both of us.”
Although Biega has been instrumental to his growth on the power-play, McNally’s partner during even strength, Brendan Rempel, has really helped establish his play in the defensive end as well as the offensive end. Rempel is known as a very strong defensive player, so his presence also allows McNally to jump into the rush often.
“Playing together has been pretty good so far, and we have some pretty good chemistry,” Rempel said about playing with McNally.
“I am kind of his defensive safety net because I am more of a stay-at-home guy while he likes to jump up into the rush. We don’t have to worry about getting out of position too much because Pat is also very sound in the defensive end. I am very comfortable knowing I have him back there with me especially when I go to make a big hit that he is there to back me up.”
At 6'2”, McNally has the size be a shutdown defenseman, but his skating ability also allows him to jump into the offensive zone. His size and ability is something rare because it allows him to jump into the play, but he can also quickly get back into position if the play turns in the other direction.
“He has his own style to a certain extent because he jumps up into the play a lot offensively,” Donato said. “His stick skills are so good that he can take chances that would put other players in a tough situation. He is also a very strong skater so he is able to recover when he jumps up into the offensive zone, and that really allows him to have a big impact.”
Although he may have the height, McNally has had to battle to put on some of the muscle and weight. The Harvard Athletics website lists McNally’s weight at 190. With a strong off-season program this past season, he put on some weight and his strength is starting to show.
“Off the ice he has really gotten a lot bigger and stronger,” Donato said. “He stuck around last summer to work on his strength and conditioning. He is one of those guys who have height, but the weight hasn’t come on too easily. It is starting to come now though because of a lot of the hard work he put in last summer.”
As a Canucks prospect, McNally has had the opportunity to put himself against some of the top prospects in the CHL and European leagues. Going to college straight from Prep School, he never really had the chance to face players from those leagues.
“I never got to play against some of the older guys that play in the CHL, so it was really helpful to see how I stacked up against some of those guys,” McNally said. “The experience was good for me because I got to see some of the Europeans, who I had very little experience playing with or against.”
As long as McNally stays on track with his development, he could be a very strong NHL defenseman some day soon.
Editor's Note: Hockey's Future has learned that Pat McNally will no longer be with Harvard for the rest of this season. He has left the team.