Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a famous dad? Well there are three players on the Buffalo Jr. Sabres that are living your dream. Brian Ruff, Ryall Ledyard and Derek Patterson have all been raised by fathers who played in the NHL.
It goes without saying that hockey has always been a huge part of these players’ lives.
“I started playing hockey at a very young age,” said Brian Ruff, the son of former Sabres forward and current head coach Lindy Ruff. “My dad threw skates on my feet the second I could walk. Why not learn how to walk on ice instead?”
“I was four years old when I started playing hockey in Vancouver,” said Ryall Ledyard, whose father is former Sabres defenseman Grant Ledyard. “I wanted to play hockey because of my family. My older brother Jake had just started playing, and watching my dad all the time, they were both big influences.”
Growing up, my dad never told me that I had to play hockey. He never forced me to or told me he would love me any less if I didn't. Instead, he said he would back me up on whatever I chose to do in life. - Brian Ruff
(Derek Patterson is the son of Colin Patterson, who played for the Calgary Flames and eventually the Buffalo Sabres for two seasons.)
Even though they were raised in a hockey lifestyle, the decision to play the game was always their own.
“Growing up, my dad never told me that I had to play hockey. He never forced me to or told me he would love me any less if I didn't,” says Ruff. “Instead, he said he would back me up on whatever I chose to do in life, whether it was dancing or hockey. I obviously chose hockey.”
Ledyard had a similar upbringing. “I always knew I had a choice of what sport I wanted to play,” said the Clarence native. “Throughout my childhood my parents got me to play as many sports as possible and I really enjoyed that. I just ended up loving the game of hockey.”
Growing up and playing the same game that your father has played for so long definitely has its perks.
“He has taught me a lot about how to deal with different situations, in life and in hockey,” said Ledyard.
“Not only can he teach me all that he has learned, but I get to hear about his cool experiences and the friends he made while doing what he loves,” says Ruff.
Having a famous father isn’t all fun and games. Although their fathers might not expect them to be the best on the ice at all times, other teams do.
“I try to keep my family out of what I do,” says Ledyard. “I keep my head low and try to earn the things I get with hard work.”
Ruff has had to deal with similar expectations from the opposition, while having to overcome adversity along the way.
“Everyone expects me to be amazing because who my dad is. What people don't know is that I lost 18 months of hockey due to my back surgery when I was 13,” says Ruff. “[Having a famous dad] leaves a huge target on your back in games. Kids go after me just because of who my dad is.”
At the end of the day, Ruff, Ledyard and Patterson know what they’re up against. They spend their whole lives dealing with the advantages and disadvantages of having a famous father. It’s something their head coach Michael Peca is dealing with for his own son.
“I think there is always a little added pressure. Especially as they get older and opposing kids don't hold back as much,” explains Peca. “My son has been well informed on what to expect and how best to deal with it. So far he's done a real good job.”
Now onto something those guys would rather talk about: their team. The Jr. Sabres continue their great play this year, and remain atop the OJHL’s West Division. Their record is now 18-7-1 after a 7-0 win over the Georgetown Raiders on Thursday. Buffalo’s 37 points gives them an eight-point cushion on second-place Raiders.
Forward Tyler Gjurich scored four goals in Buffalo’s rout of Georgetown, and now leads the OJHL in goals with 20. He also added an assist in the game, putting him a tie for the league scoring lead with 37 points (20+17) in 25 games. Goalie Parker Gahagen tops the OJHL in both wins (16) and shutouts (5). The 19-year-old Gahagen has posted two straight shutouts, along with three in a row at home.
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The Junior Sabres have three games scheduled before Thanksgiving, starting with Saturday’s contest in Hamilton. They return home to the Northtown Center on Wednesday to play the North York Rangers at 7:30 p.m., and then hit the road on Saturday November 17 to face the Burlington Cougars.
For more information on upcoming Jr. Sabres games, check out their web site at www.buffalojrsabres.pointstreaksites.com