Rocket Ryan

Know Your Bobcat – Ryan Callahan

Throughout the months of August and September, will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment features third-year center Ryan Callahan.

Name: Ryan Callahan

Position: Forward

Hometown: Grafton, ND

Height: 6’

Weight: 200 lbs.

2012-13 Team: Bismarck Bobcats

2012-13 Stats: 30 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 PTS, -1, 14 PIM, 2 GWG

2012-13 Awards/Distinctions: NHL Central Scouting Services Prospects to Watch

Favorite TV Show: Breaking Bad

Favorite Athlete: Tiger Woods

Highlight of 2012-13: “Being able to win the Central Division Finals in front of our fans is something I’ll never forget. Hearing the place go nuts when the game ended was one of the loudest things I’ve ever heard while playing.”

On Watch

Just four days after the 2012 NAHL Showcase wrapped up for the Bismarck Bobcats, forward Ryan Callahan made franchise history, becoming the first Bobcat to be recognized by NHL Central Scouting Services on their “Prospects to Watch” list.

“Being on the Central Scouting list was totally out of left field: I didn’t expect it at all,” confessed Callahan, who skipped his junior and senior years playing for Grafton-Park River to join the Bobcats. “I was sitting in my room when my buddies and teammates started tweeting me that I was on the list. I had to go to to see it for myself.”

The September listing—the first released by the NHL’s prestigious ranking service for 2012-13—rated Callahan as a “C” skater, which projected him as a fourth-to-sixth round draft pick.

The timing of the NAHL Showcase helped propel the 1994 birthyear onto the ranking, as the event was attended by scouts from all 30 NHL teams.

“Ryan impressed the scouts with his skating and his strength in Blaine (Minn.),” assessed Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, who drafted Callahan in the fourth round of the 2011 NAHL Entry Draft. “He worked very hard in the gym and on the ice to put himself in the position to be recognized by big league scouts.”

Unfortunately for the then-second-year veteran, he would find out hours later that he suffered a stress fracture of the vertebra, which he actually suffered during training camp.

“Talk about a roller coaster, bittersweet day,” lamented Callahan. “My back had been bugging me since training camp started, but I knew there was something wrong at Showcase.”

Doctors told him he would be out 3-to-5 months.

Battling Back

Getting back onto the ice was a long process for Callahan. While he worked his way into playing shape, the center stayed in Bismarck to rehab in order to avoid interrupting his senior year at Bismarck High School.

“While I wasn’t out there playing, it was more important than ever for me to keep up with my studies,” stated Callahan. “Our coaches make sure we take our education as seriously as we take hockey and I didn’t want to fall behind.”

He would eventually graduate from BHS with a 4.0 grade point average.

Before that, however, Callahan would get back onto the ice right around Christmas time, practicing with the team before their late-December trip to Coulee Region.

“We knew Ryan would make it back onto the ice quickly because he’s such a hard worker,” credited Sedevie. “You’re talking about a guy who had a broken back and still managed to get on NHL scouts’ radar at the Showcase… of course he was going to be back as soon as he could.”

His first game was January 5 against Brookings, but the most memorable moment of his comeback came two games later at home against Aberdeen: on a breakout stretch pass from Joe Giordano, Callahan raced behind the Wings’ defense for a short breakaway, ripping a rising shot home for his first goal of the year—four months into the season.

“I was on the wall and Joe got a loose puck so I just took off,” recalled Callahan. “’Gio’ sent a perfect chip up ice, and when I got it behind their defense, I knew there was no way I was going to miss.”

Callahan’s teammates mobbed him for an extended celebration.

“All the guys watched Ryan working his way back into the lineup, so it was a win for everyone when he got that goal,” explained Sedevie.

The tally sparked a three-goal rally that delivered the Cats a 3-1 win and a home-and-home sweep of the archrival Wings.

He would finish with three goals and four assists in his injury-shortened season.

Better Than Ever

Even though Callahan was a lineup regular and producer all the way through the playoffs, including scoring a goal in the team’s final Robertson Cup game against the Jamestown Ironmen, he is the first to tell you he wasn’t back in peak condition just yet.

“I’d say by the time the season ended, I was about 70%,” confessed the third-year speedster, “which makes this coming season pretty exciting for me, because right now I feel like I’m back to 100%.

“Last season I was out there working around my back when I was doing basic things like skating; this offseason I’ve been able to actually work on improving things like puck control and strength on the puck. It’s a great feeling to be working on improving my game instead of just improving my physical condition.”

With training camp just over a week away, Callahan has to weigh the balance of pushing himself and pushing himself too far.

“It’s a tricky situation, because I know that I don’t get anything out of it if I don’t work hard during training camp and ‘Hell Week,’” he noted, “but at the same time I can’t overdo it because that’s how I got injured in the first place.”

But don’t mistake caution for hesitation or anxiety on the part of the veteran center.

“I can’t wait to get back to Bismarck/Mandan and get back into everything,” Callahan asserted. “We’ve got a great group of guys coming in and now that I’m back to where I want to be, it’s going to be a great season.”

Stay tuned to over the next month-plus as we take you in-depth with every player on the Training Camp Roster in preparation for the 2013-14 season. This week, we will also feature Stanislav Dzakhov.