Pasadena’s Pugliese lands NCAA D-I commitment with Niagara
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Bouncing from west to east to north and back to east has been no problem for Patrick Pugliese.
He recently decided he’ll remain in the east for the next four seasons, having committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Niagara University (Atlantic Hockey).
The 1999 birth year and Pasadena native had one of his New Jersey Titans (NAHL) teammates commit to the Purple Eagles earlier this season. That gave the coaching staff plenty of looks at him, and after Pugliese played well at the league’s Top Prospects Tournament, an offer followed soon after.
“Our teams’ staffs are close,” said Pugliese, who was second in the NAHL in wins (24) as February ended, helping the Titans to the top of the East Division. “It’s a great opportunity, and the Titans have moved a lot of goalies on to D-I.”
Growing up, Pugliese played for the Pasadena Maple Leafs, LA Selects, Ontario Stars, Anaheim Wildcats, Anaheim Jr. Ducks and Orange County Hockey Club.
“Patrick’s a gamer,” said Alex Kim, who coached him for two seasons with the Jr. Ducks. “He’s a good teammate, and he’s very consistent. You knew day to day what you’d get with him.”
After two seasons of prep school hockey at The Loomis Chaffee School – “I wasn’t ready for junior hockey,” Pugliese said – he tried out for the British Columbia Hockey League’s Penticton Vees.
The Vees didn’t have a spot, but their coaching staff recommended him to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Nipawin Hawks.
“We were driving home from the tryout camp and the Nipawin Hawks coach reached out to me,” Pugliese said. “I signed that week.”
Canada’s high plains were an eye-opener.
“I’d been to Connecticut and Mammoth, but I’d never experienced anything like that cold,” he said. “From Oct. 31 until mid-March, it was never warmer than 32 degrees. And for two weeks in January, we literally were the coldest place on earth – minus 47 degrees at one point.”
Overall, the Niagara commitment should give Pugliese some steady work in one place for a while.
“When you look at the driving we did in California, distance has obviously been no obstacle,” he said with a chuckle.
Photo/New Jersey Titans
— Chris Bayee
(March 31, 2020)