When Patrick McNally, of Glen Head, started skating at age 6, his mother noticed that he was particularly drawn to the players for the Long Island Edge, a travel hockey team that practiced in a rink in Port Washington. Skating alongside them, Patrick seemed to know that hockey was for him.
After playing Peewee hockey, McNally attended prep school at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and continued his hockey career. Then he played at Harvard University.
After graduation, McNally, a defenseman, signed with the San Jose Barracuda, an American Hockey League team and an affiliate of the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks. A few months ago, his agent presented him with an offer he couldn’t refuse — a chance to play closer to home with a team he’d grown up idolizing.
“I dreamed of playing with the Islanders — I watched them throughout high school,” McNally said, “so this move made sense.”
In August, McNally, now 25, signed with the Worcester (Mass.) Railers, an affiliate of the Islanders. He is excited to get the season under way.
“I’m four days into training,” he said last week, “but we’ve got a pretty good team, led by a good coach who’s been around and knows what he’s doing.” Jamie Russell has been the Railers’ general manager and head coach since September 2016.
“Patrick has been terrific,” Russell said. “We have high expectations for him, as we feel he can dominate at both ends of the ice. We want him to be a great defender, [but also] jump up the ice to join the [offensive] rush.” Russell added that McNally would quarterback power plays for the Railers.
With the start of the season only days away, McNally was eager to show off his skills and put his training to good use. “We’ve run a lot of drills as a team, and we’re getting better every day,” he said. “I know our hard work will pay off once we get the season going.” Asked about his go-to game ritual, he said, “I usually like taking a pre-game nap.”
Although this is the second pro team he’s played for, McNally is focused on taking his career one day at a time, with no set plans move up to the NHL. “I think it’s important to play as well as I can at the highest level that I can,” he said.
He is clearly stoked about playing for the hometown team — a Massachusetts affiliate, anyway. “I’ve been playing for a long time, and the sport is a big part of my life,” he said, “so it’s pretty exciting.”
The Railers will take the ice at the DCU Center in Worcester for their first game, against the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs, on Saturday at 7 p.m.