Former Hab Holland finds a home with Vikes hockey team

Patrick Holland, the newest recruit of the University of Victoria hockey team, says his five games up with the Montreal Canadiens is “something I can take to the grave.”

That’s five more games with the Habs than the rest of us can take.

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The 24-year-old forward will study computer science at UVic in September and play for the Vikes in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League.

Holland said it is time to pursue his civilian life after a junior hockey career with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL and pro stints with the Hamilton Bulldogs and St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL, Ontario Reign of the ECHL and HPK Hameenlinna of Finland.

“I was always a math and science guy . . . there are so many routes you can take from computer science,” he said.

Holland is from Lethbridge, but his connections to the Island are many. Parents Dave and Lynn moved to Victoria five years ago and uncle Jamie Cassels is president of UVic.

Holland realizes his call-up to Montreal, at the start of the 2013-14 season, will be a curiosity among his new Vikes teammates this fall. It was the culmination of two seasons with the AHL affiliate Bulldogs.

“It was surreal,” said the six-foot, 175-pound winger, who did not record a point in his brief NHL career.

“I was just a guy who planned on college hockey after Junior A and never thought I would make the [major-junior] WHL.”

Holland said he never really thought about getting drafted. But, again defying expectations, he was selected by the Calgary Flames in the seventh round in 2010.

The Flames in 2012 traded Holland, Rene Bourque and a second-round draft pick that became Zach Fucale to the Canadiens for Karri Ramo and Mike Cammalleri. Holland, who was signed to a three-year entry-level contract by the Habs, was traded by Montreal in 2014 to the Winnipeg Jets for Eric Tangradi.

After starting this season with four goals and nine points in 20 games in the Finnish SM-Liiga, Holland decided to get off the pro hockey carousel. A good all-rounder, he came to Victoria and spent the rest of this past winter sports season playing soccer for Lakehill.

When he enrolled at UVic, the Vikes came calling.

“We couldn’t believe it . . . and got ahold of Patrick right away,” said Reza Binab, the Vikes director of hockey and business operations.

Nobody was more surprised than Holland. “I didn’t even know UVic had a hockey team,” he admitted.

A lot of people don’t. It is probably the best-kept sports secret in town. The Vikes are not in the CIS or Canada West conference, but operate on a self-funded club basis. Yet, don’t let that fool you. Most of the hockey Vikes are former major-junior, Junior A or Junior B players. UVic has won three B.C. Intercollegiate championships in 2007, 2009 and 2012 in a circuit that includes SFU, Trinity Western, Selkirk College and Eastern Washington.

The Vikes will travel next season to play U.S. university NCAA Div. 1 teams, facing the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison on Oct. 1, and the Northern Michigan Wildcats on Oct. 2.

“That will be interesting because NCAA was the route I was considering but not taken by me, although I played in the pros with a lot of guys out of the NCAA,” said Holland.

“I’m really looking forward to playing at UVic. It’s cool to be part of a team again.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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