Sunday, January 15, 2012


Answering the Bell

When duty called last Saturday night at the Germain Arena in Fort Myers, Florida, Ryan Donald answered the bell. The native of St. Albert, Alberta circled in his own end of the rink in anticipation of the referee’s whistle to participate in the shootout.
Donald buried his chance. Not a soul had left the arena, as Donald was the fifteenth shooter on the Everblades roster attempting to get one by the Chicago Express goaltender Peter Mannino.
“It was my first shootout goal, ever,” he told me after the game, sporting the traditional hard hat in the dressing room. The Calgary Flames established the hard hat tradition, as each star is required to don the ridiculous-looking hat while being interviewed by the CBC after the game. When I asked Ryan if I could take his picture wearing the hat, he smiled proudly and added, “Most certainly!”
It was Donald’s fourth goal of the season, although shootout goals do not count in one’s season totals. The rugged defenceman has also added eight assists, and was a plus eight going into the game. He leads the team in penalty minutes.
Donald’s hockey statistics are listed in the incredible web site entitled “”. You should make that one of your favourites. RIGHT NOW! Ryan Donald got his start in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, then played for the Camrose Kodiacs in 2005-2006. He then spent four years at Yale University before beginning his professional career.
He did in get three games in 2010 with the Springfield Indians after his last season at Yale, then split the next year between the Providence Bruins of the AHL, and the Reading Royals in the ECHL. This is his first season with the Everblades.
A quick look at the ECHL record book shows that Donald’s goal will not make the grade on the list of prolonged hockey games. On October 16, 1992, Brett Burnett scored for Birmingham on the forty-second shot to beat Hampton Roads. Each player on both teams would have had at least two shots, some three.
“The only shootout I was ever involved in that lasted longer than this was in Nuremburg, Germany,” Everblades’ Coach Poss told me after the game. Both he and assistant coach Brad Tapper experienced that marathon. It went to seventeen shooters.
“Naturally, this is a big win for us,” Coach Poss added. His team had picked up its third straight win over the Express, and had moved into first place.
Due to financial restraints, when teams come to Florida on a road trip, they often play three straight games against the Blades. Naturally, this can lead to a certain amount of animosity. There were a few “fisticuffs” in the second game last Friday night, but no fighting majors in the last game.
Tyler Donati was the second star of the game. The leading scorer for the Express added a goal and an assist to his totals. He has continued to put up fine numbers, following his stellar career with the Belleville Bulls. “This is really tough,” he told me after the loss. “Just awful. We took quite a few bad penalties, and it cost us.”
We discussed the fact that this league uses two linesmen, but one referee. “I hadn’t thought about that, “ Donati added. “We had two refs in the OHL, too. There should be another ref.” There was a nasty incident in the third period, which might have been avoided with a two referee system.
Ryan Donald took a moment at the end of the game to bask in the joy of victory. “We’ve had trouble closing out at home, so this is a big win for us. It is huge for us to take three out of three against them.”
He was wearing the blue hat proudly when I left the dressing room.

James Hurst
January 15, 2012

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