Ryan Walsh may not have had to move on to college hockey right away, but when the opportunity presented itself, he did not look a gift horse in the mouth.
The 2003-born native of Parkland, Fla., heard from Johnson and Wales University who saw enough at the USPHL National Championships that they didn’t want to wait another season to bring him on board. You can’t really miss the man – at 6-feet-5-inches and 216 pounds, he was the biggest overall player on the ice for the Juniors (teammates Jackson Studebaker and Tyler Cullen are also both 6-5, but lighter).
“Conversations began in early June, but they saw me play at USPHL Nationals and liked my play. As a 2003-born player, they did not realize I was open to going to college versus playing another year of juniors,” said Walsh. “When my coach Garrett Strot told them, they reached out to me. They were seeking left defensemen and liked that for a big guy, I move well. They also liked my hockey IQ and my physical play.”
While most of Walsh’s hockey has been played in Florida – including a USPHL 15U season with the former Palm Beach Hawks – he has ventured out, including a stint with the CarShield AAA program in Missouri in 2021-22 and the USPHL 18U’s CP Dynamo in New York in 2020-21. So heading up to Rhode Island is not unusual for this well-traveled athlete.
“Playing NCAA was always a goal for me. I like the location of the university and the variety of majors available,” said Walsh, who will be a Business major at Johnson and Wales. “I am visiting in a week, but I know the area well and after multiple conversations with the coaching staff and hearing their vision for the future of this team, I felt comfortable committing.”
Walsh played 43 regular season games and posted a 5-8-13 line for the Juniors, and also had an assist in five postseason games, which as aforementioned ended at the USPHL Nationals in Utica, N.Y.
“Tampa Bay is a well-run organization that puts players first. When my Tier 2 option did not work out, Garrett contacted me and I liked what he had to say. Of the Tier 3 options, the reputation of the organization coupled with input from former players influenced my decision,” he added. “The off-ice training is intense, but effective. The specific speed training helped my skating speed and how quickly I am able to react on the ice.”
A veteran of multiple USPHL seasons at different levels, he was also thankful to the league for helping to get him NCAA-ready at this point in his career.
“The USPHL does a good job with providing visibility to players as coaches from many schools attend games and showcases throughout the year. I feel very prepared to play at the NCAA level based on my Premier experience,” added Walsh. “I will continue to work on overall speed with on-and off-ice footwork, as well as cardio and weight training to put myself in the best position to make an impact.”
The USPHL congratulates Ryan Walsh, his family, the Tampa Bay Juniors and Johnson and Wales University for his commitment.