Karen’s Print Rite presents a conversation with former Black Hawks goal-scoring leader Patrick Russell.
In the fall of 2013, Patrick Russell brought unique experience to an already well-versed group of Waterloo forwards. The then-20-year-old former captain of Denmark’s national junior team fit right in. Russell led the 2013/14 Hawks with 29 goals in 55 games. After winning the Anderson Cup, he put the puck in the net five more times during a dozen playoff tilts as Waterloo reached the Clark Cup Championship Series.
Wearing the same #63 last season as a freshman at St. Cloud State, Russell was a three-time NCHC Rookie of the Week and earned a place on the conference’s All-Rookie Team. He finished the year with ten goals and 25 points, which ranked fourth and fifth on the squad respectively. After reaching an NCAA Tournament Regional Final in March, Russell and the Huskies are off to a great start this season. Opening with an 8-2-0 record, the sophomore has a team-high six goals and is tied for the lead with 12 points.
We asked Patrick about his success, past and present.
Black Hawks: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make moving from junior hockey in Sweden to the United States?
Patrick Russell: The cultural difference was the biggest difference. Hockey is so much bigger “over here.” The styles are kind of similar, but I have never played in front of a crowd like the crowd at Party Town.
BH: After scoring a remarkable number of goals during your 2013/14 season with the Hawks, are there any which stand out in your memory?
PR: These are two goals that stand out to me. [My] first goal of the season at home against Youngstown, I’ll never forget the sounds of the cowbells. And then my goal against Indiana, Clark Cup Game Five.
BH: When you look back on the Clark Cup championship series against Indiana, what do you remember, especially from Game Five?
PR: The crowd, it was amazing. I remember us guys looking at each other after the national anthem and just saying “wow.”
BH: There are lots of former Black Hawks at St. Cloud. Do you compare notes about your time in Waterloo? Do you talk much with current teammates who played for other USHL teams about the games you played against each other?
PR: Yes, we talk about our time in Waterloo a lot. We have guys here from different seasons, so it is always fun to hear how it was their year. Almost everybody I have talked to, that played for different teams, hated going to Party Town to play there because of the cowbells and the crowd…so that’s awesome.
BH: How did college hockey compare with your expectations when you first took the ice last season? Why do you think you were able to have so much individual success during your first year?
PR: I didn’t really know what to expect when I first got on the ice, other than I knew it was going to be hard. It is a really tough league and you have to work 100 percent every day.
There is no doubt that Waterloo helped me in having success last year. My year in Waterloo really prepared me for the following year, both as a person, but also as a hockey player.
BH: How did the Clark Cup playoffs compare with the NCAA Tournament? Did you have to approach the single-elimination format differently than the “series format” in the USHL?
PR: Playoff hockey will always be playoff hockey, no matter what level you play on. Single-elimination was a different format than what I was used too. It is obvious that it all comes down to one game, it’s all or nothing, just like a Game Five of the Clark Cup. I like when it comes down to one game. It’s what you play for the entire season and it all comes down to one moment…it’s awesome.
BH: You’re off to a strong start this season. With ten games completed, what signs have you seen which suggest the Huskies, and you personally, will surpass your accomplishments from 2014/15?
PR: We are off to a strong start and we gotta keep it going. We have a strong belief in each other. There are a lot of really good teams, so it is important to play 100 percent every single time, otherwise it can go really fast the other way.
Where Are They Now is presented by Karen’s Print Rite. Special thanks to Tom Nelson of the St. Cloud State University Athletic Media Relations office.