Like father, like son: Babey’s coaching tenure bridges the generation gap
September 25, 2012
CALGARY — Before we jump to conclusions, begins Ken Babey, let’s not confuse longevity with age, right?
“It’s like I told Kent: ‘Remember — when I started coaching, I was only a couple of older than you guys, right?’ ” guffaws the iconic SAIT Trojans men’s hockey coach.
Now in his 26th season at the helm of the Trojans, Babey knew this day would come. In recent years, both of Babey’s sons — forward T.J., from 2003-04 to ’07-08, and defenceman Joe, currently in his third year of duty — have suited up for SAIT. Other Trojan regulars, like second-year forward Corey Tyrell, have a long association with SAIT Arena, going back to their rink-rat days at Trojans summer youth hockey camps.
Now, finally, it’s happened . . . one of Babey’s newest recruits, rookie forward Riley Paterson (1st year, Calgary, business administration, SJHL Yorkton), is the son of one of his former players, Kent Paterson.
“It makes you feel good . . . but it also shows you how fast time flies,” says Babey, who has accumulated more regular-season and playoff wins (481) and games (777) than any other coach in Canadian post-secondary hockey history.
Kent Paterson, a big bulwark of a defenceman from Regina, spent three seasons patrolling the Trojan blue line, from 1988-89 through ’90-91, peaking in terms of production during his final Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference campaign with six goals among 22 points in 25 regular-season games. And while Kent might have had some temporary misgivings about his son’s junior address — Riley played for the Yorkton Terriers, the bitterest of rivals for his old Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League squad, the Melville Millionaires — he was overjoyed when Riley chose to cast his lot with the Men of Troy.
“I was definitely thrilled about his decision. I feel like I kind of grew up here. To this day, I still come in here and it brings back so many memories . . . it’s like I haven’t even left,” says Kent, who lives in Banff.
“I was really happy that Riley will get a chance at the same experience, being coached by Ken — the tradition he’s established, the championships they’ve won, the emphasis on personal development.”
Riley Paterson, 20, made a profound impact during his three years in Yorkton. He helped the Terriers get to the SJHL final in each of his first two seasons, served as captain during his last, peaked statistically with 17 goals and 34 points in 56 games during 2011-12, and played with a serious chip on his shoulder.
“It feels pretty good to be here. It’s the tradition. Dad said, ‘SAIT’s your place to go,’ ” says Riley, a six-foot-one, 195-pound centre. “I think I play a similar style to the way he played. We take care of our own zone first, and make big hits. We both like to play the body — both of us are pretty physical players.
“I know that Dad’s pretty happy. He thinks it’s cool that Ken had coached him, and now will be coaching me,” adds Riley. “On top of that, he doesn’t have to drive nine hours to Saskatchewan to watch me play . . . he can just drive down Crowchild to the rink.”
Observes Kent with a laugh: “Riley’s more of a talker out on the ice than I was, definitely. He gets under the skin of the other team. I see him out there smiling and chirping at the other guys: ‘Yep, that’s Riley.’ ”
Riley Paterson, who most recently has been playing the pre-season with linemates Brent Struble (1st year, Wawota, Sask., SJHL Yorkton) and Jonathan Young (1st year, Chestermere, Alta., SJHL Flin Flon), will be helping the Men of Troy defend their title this weekend at the 24th annual SAIT Trojans Eye Opener Tournament.
The Trojans have won the past three editions of this pre-season SAIT Arena staple. This year, they’ll face the Trinity Western University (TWU) Spartans of Langley, B.C., on Friday, Sept. 28 at 5 p.m., and lock horns with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack of Kamloops, B.C., on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. The ACAC’s MacEwan Griffins of Edmonton were also scheduled to participate, but withdrew Monday and have been replaced at the 11th hour by the senior ‘AAA’ Innisfail Eagles.
To put things in perspective, Kent Paterson played in the first two editions of the Trojans’ Eye Opener Tournament — won in 1989-90 by the NAIT Ooks, and in 1990-91 by the University of Brandon Bobcats.
Surviving brain tumours in 1995 and 2000 profoundly affected Kent’s outlook on life.
His daytimer is absolutely jam-packed — he’s the receiving manager in charge of food and beverage at the Fairmont Banff Springs, he’s a proud member of the Banff Fire Department, he’s an avid outdoorsman, and he’s one of three brewmasters at the Banff Avenue Brewing Co.
And 12 years ago, in the fall of 2000, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing professionally — acing a tryout with the ECHL’s Tallahassee Tiger Sharks.
“I was reading The Hockey News one day, and I noticed a lot of names that I’d played with who were still playing professionally. I thought, ‘I’m going to take a month’s leave of absence, go down for the start of training camp, and see if I can still do it at 33,’ ” recalls Kent.
“I wanted to prove I could do it. I decided to give it a shot. I got in three games, scored my goal, and came home.”