Before Bobby Ryan was a star for the Ottawa Senators, he was a young player winning national championships with the Los Angeles Junior Kings in 2000 and 2002.
“Both were incredible, just incredible,” Ryan said. “I’ll never forget it. Every time I go back, I look at my banners up there with the guys. It’s pretty cool.”
For the second championship, Ryan’s Junior Kings defeated a Madison Capitols team that featured current Pittsburgh Penguins’ star Phil Kessel.
“I remember that game,” Ryan said. “We beat them in the finals, 3-0. It was a heck of a hockey game.”
Now, both are in the NHL as elite goal-scorers.
Although Ryan won his national titles in Los Angeles, his roots trace to his hometown of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
“I had access to ponds when they were frozen, and at the same time my mom [Melody] worked at a rink, so I was all over the ice,” Ryan said.
His family later moved to El Segundo, California, near Los Angeles, and Ryan joined the Junior Kings.
“When we went out West, we looked around at a bunch of teams,” Ryan said. “We settled into a nice place.”
Ryan credited the Junior Kings for his on-ice development in his early years.
“I think those are important years and you’re learning about the game before you make the jump to the next level,” Ryan said.
After two successful seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, Ryan was selected No. 2 in the NHL Entry Draft two years later — one spot behind Sidney Crosby.
He was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2005 and enjoyed four 30-goal seasons alongside star forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
“I think I was blessed with the guys I had around me,” Ryan said. “I attribute a lot to them, but at the same time, I came in and did what was expected of me. I knew going in that I was expected to shoot and expected to get to the net. I had four really, really good years mostly because of them.”
Ryan, after battling injury for two years in Ottawa, now is thriving in his third season with the Senators.
“I’m getting back to where I was at,” Ryan said. “I thought the first year, I was on a really nice pace and then the sports hernia happened and I battled that for a long time. But I feel great.
“This is the best I’ve felt since coming East. I hope this continues, because we’re getting ready for the stretch run right now.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.