By Ryan Nelson
Everyone dreams of scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to win their team the championship. Usually, a forward will streak down the ice and find the inch of open net past the goalie to put the game away. The only problem is that the team needs a good defense to even give them that opportunity.
When Jacob Patalino first hit the ice, he had dreams of being this star forward for his team, but as he soon found out, he was better fitted as a defender.
“I wanted to be a forward when I was younger,” said Patalino. “I had been taller my whole life so I was kind of slower in the beginning [...] and that just transitioned into being a defenseman”
His earlier years of hockey were played not too far away from the university he now calls home. The Central New York-native played hockey at nearby Skaneateles High School prior to joining the Syracuse Club Hockey Team.
During this time and before, Patalino started to develop a friendship with his then- and current-teammate Patrick Major.
“He’s a really good friend of mine. His father Mike has been a really big influence for me and coaching me all throughout my playing career, so I give a lot of credit to him and his family,” said the senior defenseman.
While he may have developed a close relationship with the Major’s throughout junior hockey, his own family, his mother and sister, also consider hockey a huge part of their lives. The distance between his hometown and Syracuse also allows for a Patalino-presence at Tennity during games.
“That’s a big part of our family, just coming to my games and the commitment they’ve given to me with traveling, it’s everything. My mom comes to a lot of my games. My sister is at Michigan right now, but she came to all the games before for the past three years which has been really nice. So, it’s kind of good to have them there, which is awesome,” said Patalino.
Besides hockey, his mother also has an influence on Jacob’s eventual choice of major, Sport Management.
“I’ve been around sports my whole life. My mom is an athletic trainer at the high school that I went to[...] I think that a big part of me growing up was just me being on the sidelines and being involved with sports, so I definitely like the business side of things too. I felt like combining the two was a really good match for me personally.”
Because Patalino knew what his major was going to be, he just had to find the right college following high school. The David B. Falk College at Syracuse eventually emerged as the right choice for Patalino who made his decision without the foresight of the hockey team.
“I just based it more on academics because Falk College is the number two Sport Management school, so that was the big thing for me, that was the big sell. I really didn’t do any research on the club [hockey] side of things. I just kinda came to try-outs one day and kinda just made it. I didn’t put hockey into the factor at all,” said Patalino.
After that freshman year of hockey though, the top-line defender was sold on the team. He would go on to play all three of his first seasons and only take a semester off in order to complete his Senior Sport Management capstone in New York City during the Fall 2019 semester. After not playing for that time, he was ready to hit the ice again.
“I was just itching to be back. I would watch a few games online just wondering what if I was there and I really miss all the guys, especially the people in my class and the class below me, we're really close,” said the senior. “They’re like my brothers and second family to me so definitely wanted to come back and help them out and they welcomed me with open arms which has been really nice.”
Since starting this new yet final semester, Patalino has been able to look back at his time playing hockey with fondness, especially the magical run of last year’s ESCHL champions.
“It was something I had never been a part of to be honest with you. It was something I couldn’t have even dreamed of. Just being a part of that was crazy, definitely the highlight of my career was that weekend [...] Just those three games, I mean you couldn’t even draw it up better than how they turned out which was really cool.”
Despite all the time spent at Syracuse and at Skaneateles hitting the ice, night in and night out, Jacob Patalino will not miss all those accomplishments as much as he will miss those he shares them with.
“I really liked getting to know each teammate because that just serves the purposes of why you play the game and building that relationship and friendship. [...] The two coaches, Coach Wolinski and Treacy, really believed in me throughout my four years and mentored me. I’ve created a special bond with those two coaches who just brought me to be a better man,” said Patalino.
Jacob Patalino started at Syracuse University not thinking of playing hockey again following his high school years. Four years later, number 44 is a staple on the blue-line and in the locker room working to make his mother and sister proud.
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