Note: This is the third of a three-part series detailing the careers of players who came to America to play in the EJHL. The interviews, all conducted at the 2012 IIHF World Championships, explore what brought the players to the EJHL and where their hockey careers have taken them since then.
Stockholm, SWEDEN- Few players represent the global nature of the sport as well as Denmark goaltender Patrick Galbraith. His father George, a Canadian native, played at Clarkson University in the 1970’s and along with several other Canadian expatriates sparked Galbraith’s interest in pursuing the NCAA route. While playing for his hometown IK Sonderjyske, he spoke to a number of Division One schools, but they all wanted to see him play in an American junior league during the 2006-07 season.
The college coaches got in touch with Sean Tremblay and at the end of the summer, Galbraith made his way to New Hampshire to become a Monarch. Right away, Galbraith knew he made the right decision.
“Playing with the Monarchs was a great experience,” he said. “I lived with [2007 EJHL Player of the Year] Paul Thompson, and he and his family were great to me. The locker room was filled with great personalities. Winning helps that, but Sean kept us in line when he needed to, but when it was time to have fun, we did.”
Galbraith split time in net with James Mello as the Monarchs captured the EJHL Regular Season Championship and the Dineen Cup.
“We only lost six games that year, so I couldn’t have asked for a better season,” he noted.
After leaving the Monarchs at the end of the season, Galbraith returned to Sonderjyske and made his debut for the Danish National Team at the 2008 World Championships in Quebec.
Galbraith then moved on to Björklöven of Sweden’s Allsvenskan league, but the team went bankrupt after the season.
“I signed a two-year contract, but the team folded after the first year. Fortunately, [Leskands] thought I played well both in the league and with the national team, so that helped me land another contract,” he recalled.
The next stop was for Slovan Bratislava, but according to Galbraith, “I needed more ice time. An opening came up with the Espoo Blues in the SM-liiga, and they remembered me from the national team, so they offered me a contract.”
Despite the multiple stops in different countries, Galbraith had his share of highlights. He made the front page of ESPN.com in 2010 after beating Team USA in World Championships.
“I was nervous going into the USA game,” recalled Galbraith, “because it was the first time I played against USA, but when the game started, we never thought about the players on the other team, they were just wearing different colors. Both teams played well but we just scored one more goal.”
His tune changed, however, after the tournament.
“At the time, I thought it was just another game,” he said. “But when I got home and saw it in the papers, I was kind of pinching my arm and wondering if it really happened. I was ecstatic.”
Earlier this season, he received his first taste of NHL action when faced the New York Rangers while playing in Bratislava. For Galbraith, the game carried the added bonus of a duel with his favorite player.
“I’m a big fan of Henrik Lundqvist. He’s a great goalie, so to play against him was unreal,” noted Galbraith. “We played a good game, we did all we could, but we lost 4-1. It was a great experience and I’m rooting for them in the playoffs so I can say I played against the Stanley Cup Champions.”
Looking back on his year in the EJHL, Galbraith said, “It was a blast. I still keep in touch with a lot of my teammates and it’s great to see where they ended up. If any of them made Team USA, I would have taken the boat over to Finland to watch them. Who knows, maybe I’ll get back to the States and get to play against them!”
-Mike Klein, 30 May 2012