Getting drafted is always an amazing experience.
Getting drafted by the team you grew up cheering for? Now that’s even better.
“It’s been a blur since I heard my name,” said Liam Patten, the 26th-overall selection in the 2017 NLL Draft. “It’s been great, it’s pretty surreal. It was great to hear that it was the Roughnecks.”
“I was a fan of the Roughnecks growing up, actually. I knew (former Riggers defender) Ryan McNish, he was in the military with my dad, so I got a bunch of gloves and shirts and things from him. I would wear them to the Rush games and I would be that one opposing fan in the stands.”
The 6-foot-1, 195 lb. defensive-transition player started his lacrosse journey in Alberta and continued to play when his family moved to Ontario when he was still quite young.
He played most of his junior career with the Barrie Lakeshores before returning to Alberta to finish his final junior season with the Okotoks Raiders.
“My dad is in the military, so we moved around a little bit. When I was young, we moved out east and then back to Edmonton. That’s actually where I started playing lacrosse, so I was pretty excited to go back to Alberta to finish off my junior career. It’s pretty crazy that I’m drafted now to Calgary.”
The right-hander spent parts of six seasons with the Lakeshores, netting 23 goals and 13 assists over 84 games. He also won 42 of 121 face-offs, while picking up 288 penalty minutes.
He joined the Raiders and coach Andrew McBride on their playoff run and journey to the Minto Cup. In the eight regular season and playoff games that Patten participated in, he displayed strong defence and an ability to push the ball up the floor as he registered one goal and four assists.
“I think I’m pretty defensively responsible,” he said. “I just like to focus on the little things like the loose balls, just take care of the back door. I like to push the pace, I like to play fast and aggressive and help provide good team defence.”
Although the Raiders lost all three of their Minto Cup games, Patten added an assist to his resume and put his skills on display for the teams in attendance — which included the Roughnecks.
McBride, the former Riggers captain, believes that the 21-year old defensive-transition player has a real chance to make an impact for the Roughnecks at some point.
“Liam is a big, strong, athletic kid that works extremely hard and competes every time he steps on the floor,” said McBride. “He can transition the ball, shut down top offence players and take draws. The Roughnecks will be impressed with the skills he can bring to the table. His game is well suited for the next level.”
He may well get a chance in the NLL this season, but first he’ll have to battle his way through training camp and the pre-season.
The whole experience has been quite surreal.
“I can’t even believe it,” said Patten, who’s dreamed of this since he was a kid.
“I can’t wait.”