Throughout the month of August, BismarckBobcats.com will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment covers the youngest player from the 2011-12 team, forward Ryan Callahan.
Name: Ryan Callahan
Hometown: Grafton, ND
2011-12 Team: Bismarck Bobcats
2011-12 Stats: 58 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 PTS, 20 PIM
Favorite Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Favorite Musical Artist: Eric Church
Highlight of 2011-12: “The crowd and the energy inside the VFW Sports Center the night we played the Russian Red Stars in December”
Junior Hockey Junior
During the 2011-12 season, Ryan Callahan found himself in the rare position of being a junior in high school during his rookie campaign in the NAHL for the Bismarck Bobcats.
Usually when a high school player makes an NAHL roster, he is about to begin his senior year, as Aaron Nelson and Cody Boyd did last season—John Furgele, Dan Kovar and Dalton Spicer were all high school seniors on the Bobcats’ 2010-11 roster. In fact, Callahan is the only high school junior to make the Bobcats under head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie.
“We saw something special in Ryan as a sophomore with Grafton/Park River,” remarked Sedevie, who himself played his first year of juniors as a high schooler with the Billings Bulls of the AWHL in 2000-01. “He’s got the strength and the skating ability of a 19 or 20 year old, and is willing to work hard on the ice. His future is definitely bright both as a Bobcat and beyond.”
Callahan scored 17 goals and added 16 assists for the Spoilers during his sophomore campaign.
The move to the junior hockey level, though, presented some unique obstacles for the rookie.
“Your junior year in high school is usually the most important one when it comes to college admissions,” noted Callahan, who carries a 3.9 GPA, “so school work had to be a focus no matter what. Whether it was homework at the hotel or reading on the bus for road trips, I had to stay on top of my classes.”
Luckily for Callahan, his teachers at Bismarck High School were able to help him work around a demanding schedule with the Bobcats that included nearly a full week in Dallas for the 2012 Robertson Cup Tournament.
“My teachers were really nice and made sure to give me a fair amount of time to get my make-up work in,” credited Callahan, “and that helped make some of our longer trips a little bit less stressful.”
The Spoiler-turned-Demon will re-enroll at BHS for his senior year.
From the Jump
While Callahan made short work of transferring high schools and moving over 250 miles away from home, making the adjustment to the NAHL level took a little bit more getting used to.
“Coming from North Dakota high school hockey, the level of play in the NAHL is a lot higher,” expressed Callahan, who played in the state’s formidable East Region, which has taken down the last 20 state high school championships, “so it’s a tough transition.
“I was lucky and got a lot of help from Layne, since he’d been through it, and our veterans were great. Dan Zawacki kind of took me under his wing and that made moving up a lot easier.”
Coming off a high-scoring sophomore year with the Spoilers, Callahan followed the lead of his captain Bryce Schmitt—who averaged over a point per game with Minot High before coming to the Bobcats—and altered his game to fit the role of a strong, hard-working rookie.
His hard work was rewarded, as Callahan played in all but two regular season games and got into all 11 playoff games for the Cats—even scoring an exclamation point top-shelf goal in the Bobcats’ 6-3 Game One win over Austin in the Central Division Finals.
“Ryan fit in right away with our team because he was willing to play a role as a rookie player,” explained Sedevie. “You can’t build a team around 18 scorers and two goalies, and Ryan found his job of winning faceoffs and being an energy player and he did it well.”
Callahan makes no bones about what people should expect when they see him on the ice.
“I want to go out there and work hard every shift,” he stated. “Playing with guys like Bryce Schmitt and Filip Starzynski last year made me want to go as hard as I can and go wherever I needed to be to get it done for the team, and I want to keep that going this season.”
The Grafton native hasn’t let the fact that it’s the offseason slow down his work ethic, either: he makes the 45-minute drive every day to get on the ice in Grand Forks, and has been working out on a daily basis with returning defenseman Jeremy O’Keefe and incoming rookie goaltender Bryan Nies at The Hockey Academy at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Though Bobcat fans have come to know and love Callahan as a grinder through one season of hockey, he’s focusing on honing a new aspect for 2012-13.
“A big thing for me this summer has been working on improving my production, especially my assists,” revealed Callahan, who notched ten points in 58 games last season. “Just looking at our team from Main Camp last weekend, you can tell that the forwards are going to be deep; no matter which line I end up on I know I’m going to be expected to produce.
“There’s some great talent coming back and coming in, and our goal is to get back to nationals and bring home the Robertson Cup."
Stay tuned to BismarckBobcats.com over the next month as we take you in-depth with every player on the Training Camp Roster in preparation for the 2012-13 season. Later this week we will feature Terry Hennen and Kevin Becker.