(FREDERICTON, NB) Patrick Watling has taken a long and winding road to Fredericton, but he’s finally arrived.
The soon-to-be 24-year-old forward had visited and committed to UNB after a stellar major junior career, but decided to pursue professional hockey when he was offered a contract by the Toronto Marlies, of the American Hockey League.
Now, after three seasons of pro, Watling will red-shirt with the Varsity Reds in 2017-18 before moving into the line-up next season.
“We’re extremely excited to get Patty to UNB,” says Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall. “We’ve kept an eye on him over the last few years and knew he’d be a great addition if we could get him to UNB.”
According to MacDougall, Watling will raise the level of competition at practices this season, saying he brings high end skill.
Watling played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Guelph Storm and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, recording 36 goals and 66 assists in 187 regular season games, including a breakout 20-year-old season where he scored 18 goals and 36 assists.
He’s spent the past three seasons with the AHL’s Marlies, and the Orlando Solar Bears and Tulsa Oilers of the East Coast Hockey League.
In 132 pro games, Watling scored 32 goals and 60 assists.
Last season, in 55 games with Orlando and Tulsa, Watling had a career high 36 points.
“He’s a smart person both on and off the ice,” says MacDougall. “He ready to come in and make an impact in the room and in practice. Next season he’ll be relied upon to play in all situations and contribute on the scoresheet. He’s learned a lot of good things in pro and we’re looking forward to getting him on the ice.”
In 2014, Watling won the OHL’s Roger Neilsen Memorial Award, presented to the top post-secondary student playing in the league.
Watling will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after his red-shirt season.
He’s studying Chemical Engineering at UNB.