By Larry Moko, Special to The News
Whether he’s holding a hockey stick or a lacrosse stick, Patrick Walsh of St. Mary Catholic Secondary School is a skillful performer with either piece of equipment.
The four-year veteran of the St. Mary Crusaders hockey team is so impressive in lacrosse, in fact, that he’s been offered a scholarship by Detroit Mercy University. Walsh, 18, recently made a verbal commitment to attend that NCAA Division 1 school beginning in 2015.Prior to his move to Michigan, the Grade 12 student plans to enroll at the Hill Academy, a prep school in Toronto where they specialize in lacrosse and hockey.
“(Detroit Mercy) saw me play in the States with my Edge team (an elite Mississauga-based travelling field lacrosse organization),” Walsh said earlier this week. “I went down there and visited when I was in Grade 11. They offered me a scholarship in November. I’ll be in criminology.”
Walsh was one of the leading scorers for the Hamilton Bengals last summer, picking up 19 goals and 19 assists in just 12 OLA Junior B games.
Joey Cupido, who has coached Walsh for the past two summers with the midget and the Junior B clubs, says Walsh has great potential. “He has good size, good athleticism and a great knowledge of the game,” said Cupido, a St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic Secondary School graduate who attends McMaster University and is in his third National Lacrosse League season as a player with the Colorado Mammoth. “I think he’ll continue to improve and be a dominant player in the years to come.”
Cupido, a defensive corner for the McMaster football Marauders, added: “The Hill Academy is a great school for lacrosse players. It is coached by former NLL players and coaches. There’s a ton of knowledge of the game there. So it’s a great opportunity for Patrick to hone his skills.”
Walsh was motivated as a boy by the example set by Dave Andreychuk — the former NHL star who combined lacrosse and hockey while growing up in Hamilton.
“My dad was actually friends with him,” Walsh said. “He used to go to his (NHL) games all the time and hang out with him. I went to the Sheraton Hotel when they (Tampa Bay Lightning) won the Cup. And I got to go to the after party. That was pretty cool.
“Dave Andreychuk was a Hamilton kid who made it big, which is kind of an inspiration for me.”
Hockey is currently taking up most of Walsh’s time. On Monday of this week he played Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association hockey for the Crusaders in their 3-2 loss to the Bishop Ryan Celtics. Hours later, he suited up for the Dundas Single A rep team which lost 6-2 to Caledon.
“I’ve been on the hockey team since Grade 9,” 6-foot-2, 175-pound Walsh said. “We won the championship and we went to OFSAA when I was in Grade 10. This year, I feel we have a good team. We just haven’t clicked yet.”
The fifth-place Crusaders are currently 2-4-2, losers of three straight.
Walsh gets back into lacrosse in a couple of weeks when he plans to try out for the Burlington Junior A box lacrosse entry. And in the summer he expects to again be travelling regularly to U.S. competitions with the Edge.
“I think he definitely has the ability to make it (at Junior A),” Cupido said. “I wish the best for him. If he makes it, good for him. But if he doesn’t, I hope to see him back in Hamilton for another season.”
Walsh says his strength in field hockey is probably running the ball up the field in transition and either shooting on the run or passing to open teammates.
Coach Marc Burton, on the Edge website, says midfielder Walsh displays a terrific work ethic. “His continued improvement and will to always get better will make him a strong contributor at the NCAA Division 1 level. Detroit Mercy got a terrific player and person.”
Two of Walsh’s sisters that attended St. Mary played lacrosse, too, for the Crusader girls’ team.