Ryan Dau's hockey career has really taken him places. His was not one of those places.
In April, Dau skipped his senior prom at to play in a hockey tournament, leaving his girlfriend to attend as the “date” of another hockey player's girlfriend who was in the same boat.
When the two girls went through the grand march together, they carried a sign that read “Our Dates Chose Hockey Over Prom” and included pictures of Dau and the other player.
“We had dated for four months, and I gave her a heads-up, but my mom told her not to listen, that hockey (plans) change,” Dau said. “But she gets that I'm a hockey player.”
The team was in Blaine last week to compete in the league's annual Showcase, a four-day, 56-game hockey extravaganza.
Following the showcase—in which Dau had three assists—the team headed back to Alaska, where Dau will live for the next seven months.
And the girl?
“We're still together,” Dau said. “She (Sarah Monette) is a great girlfriend for letting me go play hockey.”
Dau is one of two Hudson natives currently on NAHL rosters. The other, Garrett Patrick, is a goalie for the Austin Bruins. Patrick played briefly for the Bruins last season, starting two games and making a relief appearance in a third. This season he's backing up third-year NAHL veteran in Tyler Bruggeman of Mankato.
“He's another guy who's been working extremely hard to make himself better,” Austin coach Chris Tok said of Patrick. “He's good on long shots, and we're working on close-range.”
Patrick said there is an adjustment from being the No. 1 goalie to splitting time.
“When you're not playing you have to stay positive,” he said. “Once you get in, you have to show what you can do. It's definitely harder not to be the starting goaltender.”
Patrick, 18, left Hudson before his junior year of high school to pursue his hockey career, and previously played Midget AAA hockey in Salt Lake City and Omaha before landing in Austin this season.
Patrick played in one of the Bruins' four Showcase games, going the distance in a 7-6 overtime loss to Michigan.
The North American Hockey League, now in its 36th season, is the largest USA Hockey-sanctioned Junior A circuit with 28 teams. Traditionally, the Combat Hockey/NAHL Showcase Tournament attracts over 5,000 people in overall attendance, including more than 200 college and professional scouts.
The Janesville Jets were crowned champions of this year's Showcase. Like Janesville, the Fresno Monsters and Fairbanks Ice Dogs went 4-0 in the tournament, with the Jets winning on tie-breaker criteria.