|Free agent invitee Pat Mullane unloads on Philipp Grubauer Monday.|
But that hasn't daunted him as he works towards his goal of turning pro. In fact, it's only made the 5-11, 190-pound Mullane work even harder and challenge himself even further as he chases the dream of every hockey player - to play in the best league in the world. One other thing about Pat - he's a winner. Rings have followed him wherever he goes: he's won a Championship in three of the past four seasons.
Mullane's high-level ice hockey career began at Avon Old Farms, a high school in Connecticut that has won a record eight New England Division I Championships and has produced NHL stars such as Brian Leetch and Jonathan Quick. Mullane had the chance to go to pretty much any school he wanted, but chose Avon because of the elite talent he would be able to compete against and play with, as well as the fact that they won. Both of his years at Avon, he was teammates with top Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Cam Atkinson, who led New England in scoring when the two played on a line together in 2007-08.
In 2006-07, Mullane was the sixth leading scorer on an Avon team that went 22-4-2 on their way to a title and featured seven players who went on to compete for NCAA Division 1 schools. In 2007-08, he was the second leading scorer on an Avon team that went 27-1 on their way to a title and featured six players that went on to compete for Division 1 NCAA schools. That was key during his selection. "I try and pick the schools with the winning traditions," he said Thursday. "When I went to Avon...they had won a championship the year before I went there, and winning was nothing new at that school."
But after his junior season in high school, Mullane decided to jump ship and head off to Boston College in order to further develop his game. And while Avon was special, BC has been incredible for his advancement as a player. After winning a National Championship with the Eagles in 2009-10, this past season Mullane's teammates included more than ten NHL draft picks, including 2010 first-rounders Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes, as well as Atkinson. You're going to find a ton of great players at any Hockey East school, but BC has a ridiculously deep talent pool.
Of course, Mullane loves how it has helped his game. "Showing up every day to play against guys like Cam Atkinson, Brian Gibbons, Joe Whitney, Jimmy Hayes...can only make things better for me. Going out there and competing every day with them, it challenges me to get better and to keep up with them." And obviously, winning is part of it too. "For me, I just try to surround myself with great players who work hard in a winning environment, and I feel as though that's really paid off for me," he said. "Winning championships, wherever you are, is hard to do, and I've been fortunate enough to be able to do that."
Though he will go back to school next season and play on what is expected to be another loaded BC team, his turning pro is not very far off, and maybe the Caps will give him another shot.