JANESVILLE – The Janesville Jets of the NAHL are pleased to announce that forward Kyle Patava will be playing NCAA Division-I hockey for the Air Force Falcons next season.
“We are very excited for Kyle,” said Jets head coach Joe Dibble. “He has worked extremely hard to achieve everything he has ever earned in the game of hockey. He has a work ethic that is undeniable and is contagious in the room. He just doesn’t take days off.”
The 18-year-old forward from Des Moines originally committed to Army, but decided to change his mind.
“With me being a biochemistry major, Air Force wound up being a better fit for me, as far as the medical path is concerned,” said Patava, whose family members have also attended the Academy. “It just fit my career path better.”
Patava will join two former Jets in Colorado Springs. Last year, Patava and forward Jordan Himley combined for 39 goals. Goaltender Austin Priebe, the other former Jet, won six games and posted a .913 save percentage in the 2012-2013 season.
“I talked to Himley a little bit,” Patava said. “Knowing him last year, I never would have thought he’d be a military kid. But that’s what’s great about the Air Force, how they adapt their militaristic style.”
Something specific Patava noticed from his visit was the group mindset of the Falcons players.
“I really like their style of play. It’s based off of work ethic, which fits me because that’s how I go about my game,” said the 6’2”, 190lb forward. “Watching their forwards talking to the coaching staff made me aware they were a team based off of work ethic. There’s no negativity at all. They’re all so mature,” he said. “The maturity level is out of this world.”
Responsible for the impressive work ethic and maturity level is Falcons head coach Frank Serratore, a native of Coleraine, Minnesota. Serratore began coaching Air Force in 1997, when Patava was just a year old. He has more than 30 years of head coaching experience under his belt, and sees hockey on a different level, a quality that motivates Patava.
“He’s always two steps ahead of the game,” Patava said of Serratore. “I’m going to learn a lot from him, that’s for sure.”
The Falcons have eight graduating seniors on their current roster, including four of their top six forwards. With so much roster change coming next year, Patava knows he will be an important piece of the puzzle for the Falcons.
“My role now is being the bigger guy, making plays and scoring some dirty goals, and that will be my role there,” he said. “They’re going to need a power forward, big guy kind of player. I’ve been told that and accepted that role my whole career, always doing my best to perfect that style of game.”
Through just twelve games this season, Patava is fourth on the Jets in scoring with four goals and eight assists for twelve points. Despite his excitement for next year, he remains focused on improving on the Jets’ 7-4-1 record, currently good for first place in the North Division, and bringing Janesville its first Robertson Cup.
“Getting this out of the way early was huge,” he admitted. “It’s going to help me be more relaxed and focused on my games this year, rather than worrying every day about what’s going to happen next year.”
Patava is the fourth player on the Jets current roster to secure an NCAA D-I scholarship, joining Cullen Munson (Army), Mitch Fossier (Maine), and captain Drew Callin (Bentley).