by Mike Board
As Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Ryder continues his rise in the National Hockey League, his younger brother, Daniel, is making a name for himself after an outstanding year Ontario Hockey League.
And that's good news for the Calgary Flames as the younger Ryder, who is attending the Flames rookie camp which begins today at the Pengrowth Saddledome, belongs to the Flames, after being chosen 74th overall by Calgary in the 2005 Entry Draft.
Ryder played last season for the Peterborough Petes and was a big reason the team finished atop the Eastern Conference in the regular season. Ryder then turned it up a notch, winning MVP honours during the OHL playoffs.
The crafty centre led the Petes in scoring in the regular season with 38 goals and 44 assists in 65 games and then collected a team high 31 points in the playoffs as Peterborough won the OHL championship.
"The regular season was average but the playoffs were pretty fun," said Ryder. "It was a good run, The Memorial Cup was a great experience. In the playoffs you get into a zone. You get pumped up. You can't take nights off. You can't take shifts off."
Ryder, 19, has attended a couple of Flames development camps with other prospects and spent some time at training camp in Calgary last season. And he feels more comfortable entering camp this season.
"I know what to expect now," said Ryder. "The first time I didn't know what to think, really. Coming in now, you have a little more confidence. I just want to give it my all. To make the team would be great, but if I don't, I can go back and play junior."
That's probably what will happen -- there isn't a lot of wiggle room for rookies on the Flames roster this season and the newcomers are likely to come from the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, the Flames top affiliate in the American Hockey League. Players like Eric Nystrom, David Moss, Brandon Prust and recently signed Russian, Andrei Taratuhkin, are ahead of Ryder on the depth chart.
Still, Ryder will hit the ice Friday -- fitness testing was held on Thursday -- with 39 other prospects to show his game.
Did big brother Michael provide any pointers?
"He's a low key guy. He gives me a few pointers now and then. But we don't talk a lot about hockey," said Ryder.
The pair sometimes work out together in the summer, spending their weekdays in St. John's, a few hours from Bonavista, hitting the gym. On weekends, he returned to Bonavista, the quiet fishing town with a population of about 4,000.
"There's not much fishing there now because the fish aren't there. But you could call it a fishing town. It's small. Everybody knows each other," said Ryder.
Growing up, playing hockey involved plenty of travel. Ryder traveled about 90 minutes for exhibition games and three hours to tournaments, which were held four times a year.
However, it would appear that there's another player coming out of The Rock.
"I think more attention is focused on Newfoundland now. There's a little more exposure because there are some guys coming out of there," said Ryder.