AMARILLO, TX – When children are growing up in Alaska, some of their dreams are to be hockey players, to be able to pursue a career in the sport and maybe an NCAA scholarship outside of the state.
That was Ryan Cole’s dream since he was three years old, and now the Anchorage, Alaska native has accomplished that by announcing his NCAA College Commitment to Trinity College. The school is located in Hartford, Connecticut and plays out of Division III NESCAC Conference. Cole is the 8th member of the Amarillo Bulls to make his NCAA plans this season.
“Many kids start playing competitive hockey in Alaska when they are seven-years-old and the goal is to be the next Triple ‘A’ hockey player,” Cole explained. “The NCAA Commitment is something I have been working on for 15 years, and it’s a relief knowing I am going to get a chance to play.”
In 32 games for the Bulls this season, Cole has 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points. He is currently riding a six-game point streak with one goal and five assists in total. Four of Cole’s goals have come on the power play, while two more have been scored shorthanded.
At Trinity College, Cole will also get a chance to play alongside two people he knows well, his brother Brandon, and former Amarillo Bulls teammate Sam Johnson.
“I had been away from home since I was 16,” Ryan Cole said. “I played one year with my brother at Kimball Union Academy. We had a really good time, and now the ability to play with him at the college level is very exciting. We played very well together so I can’t wait to see what happens.”
Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams said Cole has been a remarkable player for the team since he arrived almost a year ago, and has a compete level similar to Joe Kozlak.
“He battles hard for pucks, and he is not the biggest player out there,” said Williams. “Anytime there is a puck is in the corner I would be happy to throw Ryan out there against any of our opponents. I know he will put his best foot forward, and have a chance to bring the puck out.
“Trinity College is one of the premiere institutions from an academic standpoint. I know Ryan is excited, and he is a bright young man with a great future. I know he will go there and get his degree and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Cole arrived in Amarillo in January of last year from the USHL. In 15 games with the Bulls he notched five goals and six assists for 11 points. He said one of things he has learned during his time in Amarillo is becoming a more polished player.
“I didn’t understand the concept of giving it every shift, consistent work ethic and defensive zone importance,” he explained. “It was a reason why a lot of colleges had passed me up. I always had the offensive skills, but it was being a well-rounded player that I had to become. That is something I had to learn playing for Coach Williams.”
Williams said there is accountability on the team whether a player is a 16-year-old or a 20 -year-old, and added that they wanted to improve Ryan’s defensive side of the game.
“He’s a player that if you watch right now at the end of the game, that he is one of my three forwards that I have on the ice whether we are down a goal or up a goal,” he noted. “It says a lot about his game and how much he has improved. For him it’s his battle to win, and to compete on the ice. I think that is what makes him a very excellent hockey player.”
Cole’s role for the Amarillo Bulls late in games was certainly evident on New Years’ Eve where he scored into an empty net in the dying seconds to preserve the team’s eighth win in a row.
Ryan Cole joins Garret Peterson (Army), Tyler Deresky (Bentley University), Hampus Gustafsson (Merrimack College), TJ Sarcona (Niagara), Tyler Rostenkowski (Air Force), Kyle Plageman (Army), and Joe Grabowski (Princeton) as Amarillo Bulls to announce their NCAA Commitments.
The Amarillo Bulls return to action this weekend with a pair of games against the Texas Tornado at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco. The games are set for Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and can be heard live on CBS Sports Radio 1440 and www.amarillobulls.com. Denis J. Puska has pre-game coverage at 7:15 pm with the puck drop to follow. The games can also be seen live on Pay Per View Courtesy of Fast Hockey and a high speed internet connection is required in order to view the games.