Belfast Giants switch delight for Pat
Published 31/10/2009 | 00:42
He's waited until now to admit it, but Pat Bateman would have signed for the Belfast Giants for less money.
It's a bit too late for player-coach Steve Thornton to negotiate a pay cut for the Calgary native, although even if he could such has been Bateman's contribution to the cause so far that he's worth every penny anyway.
The 27-year-old has notched 10 goals in 17 games and has been key to the run that has taken the team to the top of the Elite League ladder and into the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup.
When he hasn't got an ice hockey stick in his hands, Bateman's head is in his books, busy studying for his masters degree at the University of Ulster, a deal which the Giants were able to used to attract him to Belfast.
“I really wanted to do my MBA this year, I was looking around the league and Belfast has a name in Calgary. Theo Fleury played here and it has a good reputation,” said Bateman.
“One of the things that helped is that the MBA programme is one year. There are other guys on it, guys that I know and I wouldn't have mattered how much money I was offered, I was coming either way.
“I wanted to do my MBA and hockey was secondary to that really.
“When you think about it we get paid more than anyone in the league because the MBA is so valuable.”
With a Challenge Cup trip to Sheffield tonight and a return game against the Steelers in the Odyssey tomorrow, it's all about keeping the momentum going for Thornton, with that semi-final place secured as the Giants bid to successfully defend their trophy.
And the good news is that Bateman is now at his best after taking a while to find his feet.
“It took me a few games to get used to the style of play,” said Bateman, who played in the East Coast Hockey League last season.
“It's a lot different to north-America and it took me about five games to get on the board
“We've had a lot of turnover from last year. A lot of guys left and the guys here haven't got chemistry as fast as last year, but we're getting that and starting to play better and it's not how you start, it's how you finish.
“The pace is really fast and it's Olympic ice, so we have more time on the puck than in the East Coast. More room and more time to make plays. It was an adjustment and I was terrible in my first couple of games. I am used to it now. The top guys in this league are top guys and you have to watch out.”