A nine-year old boy leaned over the railing of the TD Garden in 2005 and watched as player after player wearing a red and black sweater slowly walked back into the locker room. Some were in tears, some were angry, some were silent. Donning a hat with a silhouette of a goaltender on it, he watched as Northeastern goalie Keni Gibson made eye contact with him and reached up to give him his stick.
From then on, Patrick Jordan was a Northeastern Husky fan, with the stick still hanging in his room today.
Little did he know that night marked 17 years since Northeastern University last won a Beanpot. Little did he also know that he would be on the ice when they lifted it 13 years later.
Patrick Jordan began his college hockey career at Division III Becker College in Worcester, Mass. He didn’t get the ice time he wanted, and almost as soon as his stint at Becker started, it ended. He transferred to Northeastern, where he joined the club hockey team, more so to get his hockey fix in than face any real competition. Or so he thought.
“When I first transferred here I thought [club hockey] was a joke,” Jordan said. “I learned real quick when I started losing games and getting sniped on all the time that it wasn’t a joke at all.”
Although he struggled at first, Jordan got a call-up to the varsity team last year, which put things in perspective.
“When Coach Madigan called me up, it changed everything,“ Jordan said. “Before that, I didn’t really care about hockey anymore. Once he called me up it all changed, something in me changed – a spark.”
“I was sad to go back down to the club team last year because I was loving it so much at the varsity level, all I wanted to do was come back.”
Though he did have to be sent back down last year, that little time he did spend living his dream was all the motivation he needed. Jordan posted his first career shutout with the club team – and added two more in the pair of games that followed. Jordan continued to work in the spring and summer, spending time with Northeastern goaltending coach Ed Walsh. On the outside, it may have looked like Jordan was preparing for another campaign with the club team. But he knew inside that he was working for another chance at the varsity level.
Jordan returned to campus in the fall and picked up right where he left off on the club team. He posted a 5-1-1 record, including a shutout of Florida Gulf Coast University, the eventual club hockey national champions. It was the first time Florida Gulf Coast had been shutout in their history, and for Jordan, proof that he was ready. Jordan got the call he craved from Madigan in January, and never looked back.
If you peered into the tunnel before any Northeastern men’s hockey game this year, you would see junior Adam Gaudette standing on the side of it, fist-bumping every Husky as they made their way out onto the ice. As the third-string goalie making his season debut, Patrick Jordan was the last one to fist bump Gaudette, perhaps an honor if not for what happened next.
“My first game, I went onto the ice and was getting ready to go against the University of Maine and I’m nervous,” Jordan said. “It’s my first time going out for warm-ups and I’m all antsy. I’m the last person to go on and Gauds stands right on the corner and he went to give me a high five and all of a sudden, I step on the ice and I feel something pull my leg back, and I fall flat on my face. I’m looking at Gauds who is dying laughing. I’m like ‘Oh my god, I just fell.’ All of the Maine players are chirping me saying ‘good job buddy’, the ref comes over to me and he says ‘welcome to the show’ – you can hear the Doghouse cheering for me.”
Despite the slippery start, Jordan continued to work hard in practice every day, both to make himself better, and help out everybody else on the team.
“We prepared on the ice, and when we would do goalie skills I would try to sit out some so [Cayden Primeau] and [Jake Theut] could get more,” Jordan said. “I let them take any reps they wanted even if it meant I didn’t get any that drill. Whenever I needed to go I would. I was just trying to show I knew my role and establish it.”
Watching and playing with an elite goaltender like Primeau every day certainly motivated Jordan to improve his own game.
“Seeing the way Cayden competes motivated me,” Jordan said. “He’ll be on one side of the net, the puck will be on the opposite side and somehow Cayden gets there. It’s incredible, and that just motivates me to want to compete like that.”
Jordan was officially called up on January 11, less than a month before the opening round of the 2018 Beanpot. Nobody needed to explain to him the importance of the Beanpot to a school like Northeastern. Growing up in Waltham, a suburb 25 miles west of Boston, Jordan knew exactly what this tournament meant to the city and to the hockey players in it.
Sporting the Northeastern uniform with his pads strapped on tight, Jordan walked down the tunnel of the TD Garden on the first Monday night in February to take on the Boston College Eagles. He had seen countless goalies over the years take that same exact walk, leaning over the railing trying to get as many high-fives as possible. Now, it was his turn.
“It was surreal. I could see so many kids trying to get a high-five and I remembered that feeling as a kid,” Jordan said. “I tried to get pucks to hand up to them, just trying to imagine being there again. Stepping on the ice, seeing that fanbase, the Doghouse, it was unbelievable. I’d never seen something like that. The whole time in warmups I shook, I was still shaking when we got off.”
Jordan had the best seat in the house as he watched this team of destiny win those two Monday night games to capture the school’s first Beanpot in 30 years. As the final horn blew on Monday, February 12th, Jordan leapt onto the ice and joined his teammates as they piled on top of one another. It was a dream come true for everybody wearing red and black in that building. But for Patrick Jordan, it was more than that.
It was years of hard work.
It was years of not being good enough.
It was years of wanting to quit the sport he loved so much.
But it was also 13 years in the making.
As he walks into his room every day and peers up at his wall, he’ll still see Keni Gibson’s stick hanging there, the stick he was given at his first Beanpot 13 years ago. As grateful as he is for that moment in 2005, he knew he had to write his own story on that ice, in those colors, for those fans. What a story it turned out to be.
Feature photo by Brian Bae
Inset courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics