An Antigonish native will lace up her skates with the St. F.X. X-Women hockey program next season.
“Growing up, I always loved St. F.X. athletics and my role models were always the people involved in St. F.X. athletics,” Patti-Anne Tracey said, when asked about her decision.
“I always hoped that, someday, I could be that role model at St. F.X. and I am so happy that I am going to be part of an amazing hockey program.”
The 17-year-old, who will start her studies in the Schwartz School of Business next fall, said she is excited about the opportunities she will have – both academically and athletically.
“I think [St. F.X.] was the best fit overall for both,” Tracey said.
X-Women head coach David Synishin said the Grade 12 student at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School will be a great addition to the X-Women program.
“I think, just watching her develop over the last number of years, her skating will be her biggest asset,” he said.
“I think one thing, as this league progresses, skating will continue to be, probably, one of the most important things and that is something you notice, right away, with Patti-Anne.
“And, probably over the past 12 months or so, the physical part of her game has developed as well, which is very much a key at this level.”
Her speed and strength are “extremely important” attributes that she will bring to the ice with the X-Women.
“And, as an individual – we always want to add good people, obviously, and help them develop, and have the character that we need to win – Patti-Anne has all of that as well,” Synishin said.
‘The best game’
As for lacing up the skates, Tracey did it for the first time as a two-year-old; not surprisingly, she took the ice at St. F.X. By the time she was seven, she was playing hockey.
“I just think the variety of factors that it takes to be a hockey player, and all the things that you can work on in hockey, such as your speed, skills and strategy – and just your overall character,” Tracey said, when asked what attracted her to the sport.
“I grew up playing many different sports, but hockey has always been my passion; just something that you can always work on.
“I think hockey also takes in a lot of competitive athletes that also can play other sports, but they choose to play the best game,” she added, with a smile.
When asked about her game, like her soon-to-be head coach, Tracey said her biggest attribute is probably her speed.
“Just being able to pace and time, and being able to hit the open spots on the ice, with speed,” she added.
Tracey also talked about her ability “to anticipate a play and see where players are on the ice and where they will be a threat to shoot.”
Tracey noted her “work ethic off the ice,” in areas such as conditioning.
“I try to be in the best shape that I can be and, hopefully, that translates to on the ice – that I can go up and down the ice pretty quickly,” she said.
Tracey added she also tries to be a player that “leads by example.”
“I try to spread positivity around to my teammates,” she said.
The next step
This season, Tracey skates with the Northern Subway Selects of the Nova Scotia Female Midget ‘AAA’ Hockey League. At that time of her conversation with the Casket, the forward was third in league scoring with 16 points, including 11 goals, in 14 regular season games.
“We had a great start – we were 8-0 – but in November we went into a little bit of a slump, but we came back and we are battling for first place right now as we get close to the playoffs,” she said.
The Selects are second, trailing only Metro Boston Pizza in the four-team loop.
“With everyone, it takes a little bit of time,” Synishin said, when asked if he expects Tracey to contribute ‘right away’ at the university level.
“She will find out, right away in training camp, where things are and she will have a good off-season – the off-season is usually the thing that separates players.”
Synishin noted playing in the AUS is “a jump for everyone more so now than ever.”
“As the years progress, it is harder and harder to make an impact right away, so it doesn’t matter what player you are,” he said.
“It’s just the development of the game at the AUS level but, with her work ethic and character, I think that [adjustment] will take a short period of time.”
Tracey’s family has deep roots at St. F.X.; her siblings – Grant and Caralena – are Xaverians, while her parents, Al and Therese, are alumni; not to mention several relatives.
“I will be following in their footsteps and all that certainly influenced my desire to want to do here,” she said.