July 8, 2014
By Steve Lewis - UConn Athletic Communications
STORRS, Conn. – As the University of Connecticut men’s ice hockey team prepares for the 2014-15 season, alternate captains Trevor Gerling and Patrick Kirtland plan to provide leadership and motivation in the team’s first season playing in the XL Center as a member of the Hockey East Association.
Gerling (Seattle, Wash.) and Kirtland (Cary, N.C.) were both elected by teammates to earn the title of alternate captains for the upcoming season, while teammate Ryan Tyson (Harleysville, Pa.) was named captain. It will be the second time Gerling has held the honor, while Kirtland will wear an “A” on his jersey for the first time in his collegiate career.
“I’m definitely honored,” said Kirtland about being chosen. “It would be one thing to be selected by the coaches, but it’s another thing to be selected by your teammates and peers.”
Gerling echoed the sentiment. “A lot of guys are leaders on our team. They help out and take some of the pressure off us, but it’s so great to know your teammates believe in you and have faith in you.”
The Huskies, who went 18-14-4 a year ago under first year head coach Mike Cavanaugh, will require the duo’s leadership qualities to have a successful season in a very competitive conference, which includes the likes of Boston College, Boston University, and Notre Dame.
“We all want to go into Hockey East and make an impact and show the rest of Division I that we’re a good team and a good program,” said Gerling. “We’re all anxious to get it going and have the chance to compete against some of those teams.”
Both players admired and learned from the job that captains Brant Harris and Billy Latta did last season in motivating their teammates and promoting team unity. Gerling and Kirtland hope to exhibit those same leadership qualities this year.
“I think they did a heck of a job stepping up when we needed them most. I lived with Billy for two years so I definitely saw how he handled himself on and off the ice and I think that will help me this year,” said Kirtland.
“I think you just kind of look up to the older guys and obviously playing with Harris, Latta, and Sims, those guys are good role models for everybody,” said Gerling.
Gerling, a senior forward, will be entering his second season as alternate captain for the Huskies after his first stint in 2013-14. Though he has already held the position, Gerling was very happy to be chosen a second time by his teammates.
“Anytime you get to wear a letter for a team, it’s a special moment and you’re excited for the opportunity to lead a group of new guys and be part of an entirely new season,” said the Husky forward. “It gives me great confidence that my teammates believe in me.”
In his junior year and first as alternate captain, Gerling was tied for fifth on the team in scoring, racking up 20 total points on the season with nine goals and 11 assists. He registered a point in 14 games and even had four multi-point games throughout the season.
His scoring numbers are impressive, but Gerling thinks of himself as more of a complete player. He wants to add a scoring punch, but also add to the defensive effort and play clean games.
“I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a scorer, I like to think I have a good amount of offensive talent, but going into this year, my goal is to play a detail-oriented game and not make many mistakes,” said Gerling.
Before coming to UConn, Gerling spent three seasons out of high school playing with the Langley Chiefs in the British Columbia Hockey League. He served as team captain during his time in the BCHL, giving him some prior leadership experience.
“The coaching staff did a good job of putting some pressure on me to perform. I think that league fit my game well, it’s pretty offensive and I was able to develop some skills,” said the senior captain.
After Gerling retires his UConn jersey in the spring of 2015, he expressed a desire to continue his hockey career, playing anywhere for as long as he can. It’s been a quick four years, according to Gerling, but not without many great memories.
“I still won’t forget my first college game freshman year when we all went to Bowling Green together,” recalled Gerling three years later. “That trip was fun and it was my first college experience where I got to be on the road with the boys and I’ll never forget that.”
Junior forward Patrick Kirtland enters his first season as alternate captain for the Huskies, as he looks to harness his leadership skills in a collegiate environment with the help of his co-captains.
“An effective captain offers leadership on and off the ice and shows the young guys the ropes,” said Kirtland. “I’m not as vocal as Ryan and Trevor, but I think that’ll come along as the season progresses.”
In only his second year with the team, Kirtland accounted for 15 points (six goals, nine assists) and a stunning +10 rating while on the ice in 2013-14, tying for second best on the team. The rating shows that with Kirtland on the ice, the Huskies held a 10 goal advantage over their opponents throughout the entire season.
“At the end of last year, I got paired up with Brent Norris and Brant Harris, and the two offensive guys definitely helped me points-wise on the offensive side,” said Kirtland, though he prefers the defensive side. “I’m not a big scorer, I’ve always kind of been known more as a defensive forward. I try to take care of the defensive part.”
Kirtland took three years off after high school, playing in junior hockey leagues and taking community college classes before coming to UConn. From 2010 to 2012, he played with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Kirtland served as assistant captain in 2011-2012, when he tallied 11 goals and 15 assists on the year.
“Playing in Des Moines for two years against some of the best players in the country definitely helped me get to where I am today,” said Kirtland.
Kirtland, like Gerling, desires to continue his hockey playing career after his time at UConn is complete, but offers coaching as a back-up plan in order to stay involved with the sport.
In two years, Kirtland’s fondest UConn memory is winning two of three games last season against Hockey East competition. The Huskies defeated UMass (2-1) on Dec. 30 and Providence (3-2) on Feb. 11, proving UConn is ready to be an instant contender in a very competitive league.