Like Jason Fredricks, Pat Bowen was a rookie defenseman who might not have known what he was in for when he joined the Reign in a midseason trade. Injuries to Chad Starling, Luke Beaverson and Eric Doyle — as well as the defections of Matt Delahey and Lane Caffaro — forced Bowen to play in all situations at times when he clearly wasn’t ready to.
By the end of the season, he had become a more dependable player in his own zone, as well as a confident skater with plus speed (for the ECHL level). Bowen took his lumps but emerged upbeat when he left the rink for the last time Monday morning:
How would you evaluate your season?
Getting adjusted to the league at the beginning, you have to find your strengths. I think the past month I started to play my game, started rushing the puck a lot more, jumping up in the offense and just feeling comfortable overall. All the d-zone and just adjusting to the league. I think skating is one of my strengths. I started really getting the legs going, feeling confident, letting loose. That’s how I play.
What took you so long?
It’s just adjustment – talk about deprogramming all the college stuff. For four years you’re playing the same style. Pro’s a different game. Once you start feeling comfortable, you can start playing the way you normally play.
What was the adjustment — was it the college game in general or just the change in systems?
I think it’s a little bit of both. College, you know, everything’s run and gun. You have to jump right on guys. I wouldn’t say more relaxed, but it’s not quite as going right to the puck every time, you have to worry about what’s behind you.
Does the ceiling seem higher for you now?
I think the past few weeks, I think I’ve personally played pretty good. I feel like there’s only going up from here, once you get comfortable with the league. I think you’ll see a lot more of what you saw the past few weeks this season.
What makes you want to come back here?
Just the guys every year, everyone was tight-knit. It was great playing with guys like David Walker, Germain – seeing what they’ve done in this league, really helping out. I’m 25, not the youngest rookie, but it was my first year. So there was a lot of learning to do and those guys made it really easy.