Ryder feels first-rate about second chance

Bradley Bouzane
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Bonavista native gets another shot at Memorial Cup, this time with Plymouth Whalers

A new year, a new team, but the goal remains the same for Daniel Ryder. The Bonavista native is vying for the Memorial Cup for the second straight year, but the Peterborough Petes are nowhere near the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

Ryder, who was traded from Peterborough to the Plymouth Whalers midway through this OHL season, will once again try to get the Canadian major junior hockey title. As soon as he learned where he was going, he realized he had a good shot at playing in another Mem Cup tourney.

Daniel Ryder begins his second Memorial Cup experience Friday night in Vancouver. Plymouth Whalers photo

A new year, a new team, but the goal remains the same for Daniel Ryder. The Bonavista native is vying for the Memorial Cup for the second straight year, but the Peterborough Petes are nowhere near the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

Ryder, who was traded from Peterborough to the Plymouth Whalers midway through this OHL season, will once again try to get the Canadian major junior hockey title. As soon as he learned where he was going, he realized he had a good shot at playing in another Mem Cup tourney.

"I knew we had a good team here," said the 20-year-old brother of the Montreal Canadiens' Michael Ryder .

"I wasn't sure if we'd (get to the Memorial Cup), but we really came together in the playoffs.

"There's a lot of older guys on the team who have been around the league for a while so experience should help us."

The Whalers are scheduled to play the host Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in the opening game at this year's event, which begins Friday.

The WHL champion Medicine Hat Tigers and the Quebec Major Junior League's Lewiston Maineiacs are the other two teams in the tournament.

Having had previous experience on the national stage, Ryder said he'll be more comfortable when he hits the ice in Vancouver.

"It's a lot easier for me this year for sure, but it would be nice to win it all this time," Ryder said.

"I played against (the Giants) last year and they have a lot of the same players and they have a pretty good defence, so it will (be tough). I'm just trying to focus on every game because every game is so important (at the Memorial Cup)."

Vancouver downed Peterborough 3-2 in round-robin play and 6-0 in a tiebreaker that knocked the Petes out of the 2006 tourney in Moncton. The QMJHL's Quebec Remparts, the only team the Petes beat in the, eventually won the Mem Cup title.

Ryder said the makeup of the 2005-06 Petes and 2006-07 Whalers are very different and is confident in a better showing this time around.

"I think (Plymouth) plays a better defensive game, so we focus on that and offence comes from there," he said. "There's a lot of depth here ... we have three solid lines, so that's probably the biggest difference for me (coming from Peterborough)."

One thing that doe not change, however, even with Ryder's previous Memorial Cup experience, is unfamiliarity with the competition (apart from the Giants).

With teams coming from three leagues, Ryder said it can be difficult to adjust to different styles, which makes personal performance even more important.

"You just have to focus on yourself (at the Memorial Cup)," he said. "You don't really know the teams at all."

Once this year's tournament is over, Ryder, the 74th overall draft pick of the Calgary Flames in 2005, plans on taking it easy for a little while before getting back into a hockey mindset.

The break won't be long, though, as he said he'll be living in St. John's with Michael and will most likely join the Xtreme League in St. John's once he gets some rest.

He'll also take part in the Flames summer camp and in September, he'll head west again for the full training camp.

bbouzane@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Western Hockey League, Whalers, Giants Montreal Canadiens Quebec Major Junior League Calgary Flames Xtreme League

Geographic location: Vancouver, Bonavista, Peterborough Moncton St. John's

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