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Ex-Junior Belfast Giants ace Ellie Patrick (16) is blazing a trail as she bids to fulfil her dream in America

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Ellie Patrick in action for the Great Britain U18s

Ellie Patrick in action for the Great Britain U18s

Ellie Patrick after scoring her first goal for the Great Britain U18s

Ellie Patrick after scoring her first goal for the Great Britain U18s

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Ellie Patrick in action for the Great Britain U18s

Ellie Patrick was only five-years-old when, after a figure skating session at Dundonald Ice Bowl, she ran into the Belfast Giants coming in for practice.

Inspired by seeing them in action, she asked her parents to introduce her to ice hockey. Now, 11 years later, she’s blazing a trail for the women’s sport in Northern Ireland herself.

The 16-year-old has already taken the brave step of moving to America to Hoosac School in New York to further her ice hockey development and two weeks ago she was representing Great Britain Under-18s in the World Championships in Turkey.

Ellie is the second Northern Irish player to play for the GB Under-18s after Kaitlyn Morrison and she made a real impression with three goals and four points in five games as GB finished runners-up to Spain, and she was thrilled with how it went.

“It was an amazing experience. It was my first Worlds, so when I got the call I was really excited, it gave me something to look forward to and train hard for,” said the Ballynahinch teen.

“We had high expectations of getting to the gold medal game and we just had to make it come true. I was a bit nervous because it was my first Worlds, but once I settled in it was great.

“I don’t think any of us were disappointed (not to win) as such. We met our goal of getting to the Final, it just wasn’t meant to be. But we had a fantastic time and we had such a great team.”

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Ellie Patrick after scoring her first goal for the Great Britain U18s

Ellie Patrick after scoring her first goal for the Great Britain U18s

Ellie Patrick after scoring her first goal for the Great Britain U18s

It’s been a year of considerable growth for Ellie both on and off the ice as she has had to cope with moving away from home to join Hoosac last summer, as well as adapting to the North America style of play with her new team.

Having come through the Junior Belfast Giants programme from Under-10 to Under-16 level playing against boys — such as Kell Beattie, Mack Stewart and the Hamill brothers — this was her first taste of playing against other girls, but one of the biggest challenges came before she even laced up the skates.

“Making the move was very scary at first, there were a lot of new people to meet and it was a new way of living. I had a lot of FaceTimes back home in the first few weeks!” she recalled.

“But once you get settled in it’s really fun, really good hockey and I know it was a really good decision. I’ve met so many people from around the world, I’ve made a lot of new friends and I’ve grown so much.

“I think I played pretty well for my first year in America. I think it progressed throughout the season as we started to gel during the season. The speed of the game is a lot faster in America and it’s a lot more physical too.”

She now has her sights set on continuing her development and moving up through the ranks over the pond.

Ellie heads to Nyköping in Sweden this week for a college showcase where she will get the chance to impress scouts from NCAA schools, if her international play hasn’t already.

She admits she is keen to make the transition to college hockey in 2024 when her time in high school comes to an end, but that can wait for the time being.

“Honestly, I’m just taking it as it comes,” the teenager insisted. “The first goal is doing well at this showcase and then I’ll probably start reaching out to a few colleges when I’m further into my junior year in high school.

“I haven’t even thought about potentially going pro, it’s all about Hoosac right now.”


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