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SPOTLIGHT: Ryan Stepien

Dan Hamilton

Patience is a virtue.

Throughout Ryan Stepien’s life, there have been moments where his patience was tested on the ice and in one case, in a canoe.

“I really enjoy fishing. Except for this one time my buddy and I got stuck on an island for eight hours, with no cell service and a canoe. Once we were able to start rowing back, it was dark and the only light we had was from our phones. Then the phones died. It was quite the experience,” said Ryan. “Fishing has taught me a lot about being patient. You can’t just throw a line in and expect a fish. You have to wait it out.”

The same goes for Ryan on the ice. Since starting his career in the OHL, his game has evolved. Whether he knows it or not, his maturity has as well.

“I think my game has changed since I first started in the league,” said Ryan. “I stay more on the defensive side of the puck, and I’ve learned where to be and what other guys tendencies are. I think I’ve become more of a complete player. I make sure to contribute offence, but also take care of the d-zone.”

It’s not easy to come onto a new team mid-way through the season and be able to work your way onto the first line—but Ryan was patient and found a way.

“I hadn’t had the chance to play on the top line in the OHL yet, so getting that opportunity was huge for me,” said Ryan. “It’s nice to know the coaches have confidence in me.”

Accomplishments don’t come without hardships. An injury this season put Ryan’s patience to the test once again.

“Getting injured this year was really difficult for me,” said Ryan. “Injuries make you want to play even more. I try not to think too negatively about it and focus on the present. You have to be patient and see how much better it will be when you come back.”

And for Ryan it was.

During his first game back, he was able to make it onto the first line once again. He tallied a goal and an assist in the Rangers’ 7-4 victory against Windsor. It’s all a little sweeter for Ryan because he has his family just 45-minute car ride away in Hamilton.

“Being close to home is awesome,” said Ryan. “When I played in Saginaw, it was tougher for people to come out, but being close to Hamilton it’s easier for friends and family to make their way to Kitchener. My parents come to every game. It’s nice to see friends and family every once in a while.”

Ryan looks to his dad when it comes to mentorship. He has always been there for Ryan, and he motivates him to keep pushing no matter the circumstances.

“My dad has been a mentor for me. He is very professional about things and always keeps a cool head,” said Ryan. “He always knows what to say at the right time. He’s someone I try to emulate my life after.”

It is Ryan’s patience and support from family that helped him get to where he is today. It is inevitable that continued reliance on those aspects, will lead him to more goals—and fish—along the way.

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