It may not come as a surprise to you (especially with my rantings on it), but Maryland isn’t the biggest hockey factory in the USA. In fact, some would think it’s one of the outliers despite the Washington Capitals being around in the area for over 40 years. The thing is that it hasn’t been until recently that there has been a surge of players who come out of Maryland that weren’t sons of Capitals players.
One of the players who are leading the charge for the younger ages Maryland players is Patrick Giles. Currently playing with the US National Team Development Program, Giles left Landon School after his sophomore year, which is very unheard of when it comes to Maryland players. Sam Anas, who also went to Landon, played all four seasons before moving on with Quinnipiac University and then to an NHL contract.
“Leaving Landon was hard, especially with all my friends there,” said Giles after the USNTDP game against North Dakota. “The coaching there was phenomenal for Maryland hockey. They definitely helped me with my development and get where I am today.”
Of course, for a 16-year-old to get up and leave high school is fairly hard, but when it’s going for your dream– it’s a risk you have to take. When given an opportunity like Giles was given, one would have to leap to a chance; though not without a lot of thought put into it.
“It was tough at first,” Giles remember, “But, after I got the call that I made it, it was pretty easy because it’s such a big opportunity and I couldn’t turn it down. But it was definitely hard to leave my family.”
While there has been a number of players to play college from Maryland, especially in Division I recently, Giles is getting a bit of a head start with the U18 USNTDP program. The team does participate in a partial USHL schedule, as well as international tournaments, but the team does face-off in exhibitions against Division I and Division III schools to see how they fare and stack up. With many of those on the U18 team already committed to D1 schools, it’s a good test.
What’s great about this team is it gives us the experience to play against top colleges,” mentioned Giles– a Boston College commit. “It lets us ready for college and wherever else we may decide to play in in the future.”
While the team is made up of other college commits, it’s also full of draft eligible players. The likes of Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Seth Jones, and Rick DiPietro have been through the NTDP system and been top draft picks. However, Giles and his teammates don’t seem to be concerned with that saying that they really just focus on the next game. However, if he does get drafted– he’d be (by my count) the fourth Maryland-born player to be drafted into the NHL– Jeff Brubaker, Jeremy Duchesne, and Graham McPhee being the other three.
With Giles, along with Adam Varga in the OHL, paving the way for Maryland to perhaps become more visible on the prospect-front and have more kids not have to go outside the state in order to get noticed. Giles takes it to heart and takes pride in being from Maryland.
“Coming from Maryland, a couple of guys have gone the same route,” said Giles. “Just being from a non-traditional market like Maryland, it’s been great to have the support for my state and from my family. It’s been a great experience for me.”