This month’s Alumni Spotlight features Ryan Aasman, formerly of the Medicine Hat U15AAA Hounds and U18 AAA Tigers.
MEDICINE HAT – Ryan Aasman played his minor hockey in Redcliff until the age of seven, and then played the rest of his minor and elite hockey in Medicine Hat.
Ryan suited up for the Medicine Hat U15 AAA Hounds for two seasons from 2005-2007 (earning the Top Defenceman award in 2007), and for the Medicine Hat U18 AAA Tigers in the 2007-2008 season.
He was selected eighth overall in 2007 Western Hockey League Draft by the Prince Albert Raiders, and after playing 10 games as a 15-year-old, made the jump to the WHL full-time as a 16-year-old. Ryan was traded to the Seattle Thunderbirds during his 17-year-old season, and then to the Swift Current Broncos the following season, which paved the way for an eventful final two seasons of Junior hockey.
“The start of my 19-year-old season was a wild one,” Ryan said. “I started the season with my hometown Medicine Hat Tigers and lived a dream come true. That season I played mostly for the Spruce Grove Saints in the AJHL, played four games with the Edmonton Oil Kings, and I finished my junior career in Drumheller with the Dragons.”
Following Junior, Ryan used his WHL Education Scholarship to acquire his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Lethbridge, while playing four seasons for the Pronghorns men’s hockey team. During his fifth year of university, moved behind the bench with the Lethbridge U15 AAA Golden Hawks. The following season, he moved up to the Lethbridge U18 AAA Hurricanes, and worked with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL as the Assistant Video Coach.
In 2019, Ryan was hired as an assistant coach by the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and was promoted to Head Coach in the middle of the following season. He is currently the Head Coach of the Calgary U18 AAA Northstars.
Ryan looks back to his early years of elite hockey to pinpoint his favourite memories.
“I was lucky to win three championships in three straight seasons,” he said. “We won the SCAHL U13 AA championship two seasons in a row and then won the AMBHL (now AEHL) U15 AAA championship in double overtime, Game 5, vs the South Side Athletic Club. Being a part of a championship team is very special. Each of those seasons presented good times and adversity that we had to overcome as a team, and brought us closer as teammates and friends.”
Ryan added that his minor hockey and elite hockey experience in Medicine Hat really helped him grow as he moved forward in his hockey career.
“I was fortunate enough to play at the highest level every season I played,” he said. “For me, I learned how to make adjustments against older and stronger players, and to compete everyday, mostly with myself to do everything better than I did it before.”
Although he played soccer and baseball when he was younger, Ryan said he didn’t put enough of a focus on being a multi-sport athlete as he should have.
“Looking back, I played too much hockey,” he said. “I wish I would have played more baseball, participated in a basketball clinic to learn how to shoot and dribble efficiently, or didn’t quit swim lessons at seven years old. I am a strong believer in playing as many sports as you can. It helps develop athletics and I.Q. in hockey players, as well as a heightened compete level and problem solving skills.”
Ryan’s advice to anyone starting out in hockey is to just be present in the moment.
“Have fun every moment on the ice and in the dressing room with your friends,” he said. “Embrace the exhilaration of shooting a puck or stickhandling or passing. If you have a phone, put it away when you’re in the room and laugh with your friends! On the ice, have fun failing and making mistakes. You will learn how to compete with yourself to make adjustments and it will help you succeed, in life and hockey!”