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Putting shots on net has been the thing early for Ryan Walsh of Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
The 1st-year forward from New York went into Saturday’s game leading the club in shots on goal by a wide margin
CEDAR RAPIDS — Not that it’s an end-all, be-all statistic. Because it’s not.
Shots on goal don’t mean as much when those shots aren’t going into the goal. Or lead to a goal.
But that Ryan Walsh leads the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in that category, and by a pretty significant margin, kind of tells you about his game.
“Absolutely, I think that’s one of my strengths, to create offense,” Walsh said. “Whenever I have the opportunity to throw the puck on net, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t think it’s really one of those things I focus on, throwing pucks on the net. But I think when the opportunity is there, I definitely shoot the puck. I think that’s one of my roles, to generate offense.
“That’s one of the ways I try and do it.”
Walsh went into Saturday night’s home encounter at ImOn Ice against the Waterloo Black Hawks with two goals and two assists in six games. He had 24 shots on goal, seven more than Zaccharya Wisdom, who was second on the RoughRiders.
A 19-year-old from Macedon, N.Y. (the Rochester area), Walsh was taken in the fourth round of the 2022 United States Hockey League Phase I Draft. He played prep school hockey last season at Salisbury School in Connecticut.
As anyone who follows the RoughRiders can tell you, Coach/General Manager Mark Carlson likes drafting guys from Eastern prep schools.
Walsh was asked if he felt prep school kids are more prepared for junior hockey than others.
“That’s a great question. I think it has to do with your coach in prep school, and Salisbury has a great coach in Andrew Will,” Walsh said. “(Teammate) Liam Lesakowski is a Salisbury kid, Dylan Hryckowian is a Salisbury kid. David Chen last year here was a Salisbury kid. There are so many kids who are really successful. I feel like prep school is a really good in-between step.
“Just the team aspect. I mean, you’re here eight hours a day (at the rink), you’re almost living with these guys. That’s very similar to how it is in prep school. We’re in the same dorm together, we’re in the same classes, we’re obviously on the same hockey team.”
Walsh played lacrosse growing up, which many believe is a good crossover sport with hockey. He has attended tons of Buffalo Sabres games in the NHL and Rochester Americans games in the AHL, skating over the summer with some Amerks players.
He is committed to Cornell University, a place he also attended hockey games in his youth. That, being near home and getting that Ivy League education were important factors when he was deciding on a college hockey home.
“My dad (John) is big into education, and I just feel like that’s something that’s been passed down to me. I’ve always wanted to go Ivy League,” he said. “When I was growing up, I went to Cornell hockey games, and that atmosphere was awesome. I saw it every night. That’s the place where I fit, I’ve always dreamed of playing there.
“Having something outside of just hockey, the education part, is always something good to have.”
He said he’ll be in the business school at Cornell, probably studying finance. Until then, he wants to be money for the RoughRiders.
“He’s got a good shot,” Carlson said. “I think his hockey sense is a big asset. His skating has improved, he gets around the rink well. I think he’s a really well-rounded player.”
The RoughRiders beat Waterloo, 4-2, to improve their early season record to 2-4-1. Hryckowian had a pair of goals, including an empty netter in the final minute to cement the victory.
Zaccharya Wisdom had a goal and two assists for C.R. Bruno Bruveris made 33 saves to pick up the win in net.
The club has been inundated with injuries and illness. Five guys were out of the lineup Saturday night because of injury, with another on the injured list.
That included forward Tyson Gross, who was acquired in a trade from the USHL’s Fargo Force this week. Cedar Rapids also has added 19-year-old defenseman Bryce Montgomery to its roster.
The Maryland native was a 2021 sixth-round draft pick of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and had been playing major junior hockey for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
“Just continue to make progress,” Carlson said. “I think we’ve played some pretty good hockey so far. Reality is reality, and we’ve been playing without a lot of guys. It sounds simple, but it’s about playing hard and playing smart. Those two things go a long way. We need to be more consistent in those two areas. If we can improve on them, then we can be in pretty good shape.”
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