Paradise native keeping his focus on NCAA hockey and Boston University
Despite more than a few good-natured nudges from his close friend, Ryan Greene doesn’t plan to join the Charlottetown Islanders this season.
The Paradise, NL, forward is sticking with his U.S. college intentions rather than jumping to Charlottetown, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team that acquired his buddy and former prep school teammate, Oscar Plandowski, in an August trade.
“I’m still focused on college,” said Greene, a Boston University commit who’s back at South Kent School in Connecticut for a second straight season.
“That’s the way I want to go. I think that’s the better route for me, so I’m just going to stick to that.”
Greene, who turns 16 in October, was a fourth-round choice of the Islanders in the QMJHL entry draft this June. He was ranker higher, but slipped to 59th overall because of his college plans.
Plandowski, a 16-year-old defenceman from Halifax, was a first-round draft choice (18th overall) of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, who later dealt him to Charlottetown in exchange for two draft picks (a first-round selection in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2022).
Plandowski’s commitment to the Islanders intrigued Greene, but not to the point of prompting the playmaking centre to do likewise this season.
“It definitely changed it a little bit, because Oscar, I’m best buds with him,” Greene said before Charlottetown’s training camp. “He’s been talking to me a lot, trying to get me to go there. (But) it’s been more joking around. He knows I’m still focused on (NCAA Division 1).”
Although he had earlier committed to playing Division 1 at Quinnipiac University, Plandowski changed his mind this summer in opting for major junior, which makes him ineligible for U.S. college hockey. He soon tried to convince his former prep school roommate to also turn toward the QMJHL.
“I’ve been talking to Ryan about it,” Plandowski said in mid-August. “I’ve been trying to put it into his head. It would be unreal to have him come to Charlottetown. We could play together again. I’ve been trying to convince him.
“He wasn’t opposed to coming to camp to check things out. But he was (heading back to) school. It wouldn’t have worked out (schedule-wise).”
Plandowski still respects Greene’s wishes, even as they banter on Facetime and in text messages about the chances of reuniting with the Islanders.
“It’s all kind of jokes with him,” Plandowski said. “Ryan is going to do what’s best for him and I understand that. But it would be unreal to have him around. Maybe down the road, it would be an option for us to look at.
“He’s (back at South Kent) and he’s looking forward to it, but I think he’s still trying to decide where he wants to play (beyond this season), like junior and stuff like that. Hopefully, I can do some convincing and he decides to come to Charlottetown eventually. I’ll keep it on his mind.”
At his prep school, Greene has moved up to the Selects Hockey Academy 16-and-under team this season. He scored 31 goals and 81 points in 50 games last season with the 15-and-under team.
“This year, the (U.S.) guys that didn’t make the national team will all be playing U16, so it’ll be better competition than last year,” Greene said of South Kent. “It’s a perfect place to grow and develop as a player. I really love it there.”
Greene is poised to be a leader with his school team this winter.
“Ryan is a cerebral player,” Plandowski said. “He’s just such a smart guy on the ice and he’s an unreal guy off the ice, too. He’s such a nice person to have around and talk to that it’s kind of infectious.”
Greene visited Halifax in July and gained instruction from power-skating coach Jill Plandowski, Oscar’s mother.
“She trains a lot of high-end guys in Halifax, so I did that with her for a week,” Greene said. “It definitely makes a difference. She helped me work on some elements of my skating, so it was really good.”
Back home in Paradise, the six-foot-one, 160-pound Greene trained under Jon Reid of Atlantic Pro Sports five times per week during the off-season.
“I’m just trying to work on getting stronger, and he has a good plan for me,” Greene said of his workouts with Reid, a former Truro (N.S.) Bearcats junior A forward. “He’s an excellent trainer. He knows what I need to get better at.
“I try to model my game after someone like (Washington Capitals centre) Nicklas Backstrom, more of a playmaker with good vision. I’m definitely more of a pass-first kind of guy.”
While he’s passing on the QMJHL, Greene has another junior hockey option that keeps his U.S. college eligibility intact. The Green Bay Gamblers of Wisconsin selected him third overall in the USHL draft this spring.
“I’m an affiliate, so hopefully I can get six or seven games in with them this year,” said Greene, who would be on track to join the Gamblers full-time in the 2020-21 season.
Green Bay also drafted Plandowski this year, though he had already mapped out a plan to play with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Plandowski was among the 12 Atlantic Canadians invited to Hockey Canada’s under-17 development camp in July at Calgary, but Greene was notably left off that national list of 112 prospects.
“I was a little upset when I first found out about it,” Greene said. “I know I didn’t have the best Gatorade Challenge, the (QMJHL scouting) tournament in Montreal, so that might have affected if they picked me or not. But I thought I played well in the Canada Games, so I thought I was going to get (to the national camp). But I didn’t, so that’s the way it goes.
“I’m just going to keep working hard and try to prove them wrong. It definitely motivated me more to work harder and keep getting better at everything. That’s the positive out of it.”
It was still a busy summer for Greene, who was among five Newfoundland and Labrador players with silver-medallist Canada East in the Junior World Cup under-16 boys’ ball hockey championship at Prague, Czech Republic.
“That was a really fun experience,” he said. “I enjoy ball hockey, too. It’s a lot of fun.”