Maine Hockey Journal

Maine recruits a Gambler from Green Bay

The University of Maine men’s hockey team got an athlete for the 2016-17 season in forward Ryan Smith from the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.

“He’s a fun kid, a lot of energy, but he’s an elite athlete,” Gamblers General Manager and coach Pat Mikesch said. “It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, hitting a golf ball, throwing a baseball, throwing a football, he’s an extremely wee rounded athlete. He’s well put together, and that’s how he plays the game as well.”

Before joining the Gamblers, he attended the Northwood school in Lake Placid, N.Y where he also played soccer, lacrosse and did cross country running.

Smith chose the University of Maine because it had a lot of similarities to Northwood.

“I like Hockey East, and I went to prep school in Lake Placid, New York, I am used to the northern area,” Smith said. “I like the outdoors a lot and stuff like that. The coaching staff is real nice, and it’s a good area. The town seems like to have a lot of nice people. It seemed like a good fit.”

He visited in the summer of 2015, and he took his time in making his college decision.

Smith is in his second season with the Gamblers as the 6-foot, 205-pound right winger has 12 goals and 12 assists in 55 games this season. As a rookie, he had five goals and nine assists in 57 games played.

He also has experience at the USA Hockey level as he was a member of the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka team which won the Bronze Medal as they defeated Sweden. He was held pointless in five games during the tournament. He also took part in the 2014 All-American Prospects Game where the top American players eligible for the 2015 Draft showed off their skills. He had an assist on game’s opening goal as his team as Team Grier defeated Team Olczyk, 6-3.

Smith didn’t hear his named called this past June, but he knew his name was probably not going to get called.

“I wasn’t expected to get drafted. I didn’t have the greatest year last year,” Smith said. “It was more of a developmental year and getting adjusted to the league. After the draft, I wasn’t upset or anything. I just used it as something I keep in the back of my head and keep working hard, keeping getting at it. I knew good things would happen if I kept a good attitude.”

He grew up in Georgia before moving to Roanoke, Va., when he was 16 and started playing the game on roller blades at the age of five before moving to ice hockey at the age of eight. He grew up playing with fellow 2016 recruit Chase Pearson.

“I consider myself a power forward. I am a good skater which is one of my strengths, and I have a good shot,” Smith said. “I can battle in the corners really well and use my size to throw my body around and play the power game.”

While his stat line isn’t flashy, Mikesch believes that part of the game has some untapped potential.

“He’s a big strong winger who plays the game hard and physical,” Mikesch said. “He still developing his offensive instincts. He shows up and practices hard every day and competes on a consistent basis to be in our lineup.”

Consistency is something he wants to work on as he said he can have a good two-week stretch then have an off weekend.

Red Gendron and the coaching staff will give him the opportunity to show off his skills right off the bat next fall.

“They said I won’t be sitting out very much,” Smith said. “I will be playing a lot. They told me to play my power game and bring what I can to the team. I am very excited to get started and get ready for college hockey.”

Smith’s coming to Maine is contingent upon his acceptance into the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.

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