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FNS Photo by Eric Hylden In this 2012 photo, University of North Dakota’s Stephane Pattyn skates the puck around the back of the Western Michigan net as Matt Tennyson defends during West Regional NCAA hockey game at the XCEL Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Pattyn: ‘The General’ for University of ND

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GRAND FORKS — Andrew Panzarella remembers his first impression of Stephane Pattyn.

“He had skinny jeans, a muscle shirt and gelled hair,” Panzarella said. “I was like, ‘Who is this meathead?’ I thought he was a Guido.”

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Pattyn was nicknamed ‘Mike the Situation’ by his teammates after the over-the-top, fist-pumping, hard-partying star of Jersey Shore.

But that nickname didn’t last long.

‘The General’ fit so much better.

Pattyn, a University of North Dakota junior forward from Ste. Anne, Man., is nothing like the out-of-control Jersey Shore crew that popularized the MTV reality show. Born and raised in small-town, rural Manitoba, Pattyn is a country kid, who learned that hard work is the only way at a young age.

“A man’s man,” teammate Brendan O’Donnell describes him.

How so?

Pattyn started working when he was 12 years old.

By age 15, he was pouring and raking concrete all day.

In his free time, he hunts bears.

His dream job? Working in the concrete field.

His Christmas wish list this year? A miter saw.

“Getting a miter saw for Christmas is not normal,” O’Donnell said.

Neither is Pattyn.

Work ethic

The son of Manitobans Mitch and Denise Pattyn, Stephane started playing hockey at the age of 4. It wasn’t too much later that he held his first job at a local bait shop for minimum wage.

“I would work weekdays and weekends,” he said. “We used to pack bait for costumers.”

As he approached the legal driving age, Pattyn decided he wanted to be able to buy a car. He opted for a higher-paying job as a concrete laborer when he was 15.

“Grunt work,” he said. “But I love it. It’s a workout every day. I love the people I work with. It makes the days go by fast. You’re always busy.”

Pattyn still works in concrete during the summers, though he has climbed the ranks. He is a finisher now.

He is majoring in entrepreneurship at UND, hoping it can help him start his own concrete business some day.

Hunting is his hobby.

“I hunt anything,” he said. “Deer. Bear. Coyote. Geese. Ducks.”

As a fourth-generation Métis — someone with aboriginal heritage — Pattyn is allowed to hunt whenever he wants, and he takes advantage of that. He went deer hunting when he was home for Christmas break.

Construction is another hobby of Pattyn’s. That’s why he asked — and received — the miter saw for Christmas.

Pattyn is planning on building his own house in Ste. Anne after he graduates from UND.

“He watches a lot of HGTV,” said Panzarella, who has lived with Pattyn the last three years. “Big into HGTV. He’s always designing his dream house. I think every gift he gets is a tool of some sort.”

On the ice

A blue-collared, hard-worker off the ice, Pattyn is the same way on the ice.

“He’s a competitor,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s the way I’d describe him. He’s a guy who scratched and clawed for everything as a walk-on. I don’t know if we expected him to play as much as he did his freshman year, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

At 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, Pattyn is difficult to move off the puck and provides a big physical edge for UND. He is the team’s most physical player.

But it wasn’t always that way. When Pattyn was 16 years old, he was just 5-foot-1.

“I grew about a foot in a year,” he said. “Then, I adapted to a role that my body could handle.”

The increased size led to increased physicality. And with Pattyn displaying his typical work ethic, he doesn’t make a lot of friends on the ice.

“No one likes me,” Pattyn said. “But I’m OK with that.”

This season, he’s added more skill to his game, scoring goals by sniping the corner of the net and making some skilled passes to set up teammates. His point production has doubled from last season already.

“The one thing I noticed is that you can’t get the puck away from him,” teammate Nick Mattson said. “He’s so strong along the walls. He’s been a huge factor for us.”

Off the ice, he’s still ‘The General.’

“He’s a great guy, a great team guy,” Mattson said. “And I know everyone says he’s a country boy.

“But he still wears skinny jeans.”

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