Q and A with Green Bay Gamblers Outstanding Netminder Ryan McKay
Posted by Dan in Interviews
When it comes to goaltenders in the USHL this season, there quite possibly has been nobody better than Ryan McKay. The Green Bay Gamblers netminder has been absolutely brilliant thus far in his second season, posting a 24-8-3 record, with a league best 2.03 goals against average and .927 save percentage, to go with 4 shutouts. Last season, the Chicago native went a solid 14-8-2 as a backup, with a 2.20 GAA, a .909 SV%, and 1 shutout, en route to helping the Gamblers win the Anderson Cup as the leagues top team. Green Bay also took home the 2010 Clark Cup, with a 3-2 series win over their arch rivals from Fargo. McKay looks poised to lead the club back to the dance this season also, as the Gamblers are once again among the top teams in the USHL. The 5-foot-11, 201-pound tender is calm, cool, and collected in the nets, simply evaporates rebounds, is very technically and positionally sound, never gives up on a puck, and has the ability to steal games. McKay just seems to give the Gamblers a chance at winning every game, and if he had a theme song, it be “Steady, As She Goes” by the Raconteurs. I had the chance to catch up with the gifted 18-year-old, for a quick Q and A.
You grew up in Palatine, Illinois, how did you get started playing the game and more important become a goaltender?
Ryan: My father took me to many Blackhawks games since I was two years old, and I played goalie in the living room as he would kick a soccer ball at me.
Who has been the biggest help and influence in developing your game so far?
Ryan: My father always has looked out for me, and has guided me in all my decision making, and training.
You have been so consistent in the nets this season with Green Bay, what do you see being your best attributes as a goaltender?
Ryan: Controlling the puck on initial shots, and shutting down opponents powerplays.
Is there a goalie in the NHL you style your game after?
Ryan: Love to be like Marc-Andre (Fleury) as much as I can. I, like most goalies, envy his skating, he is really one of a kind with how exposlive he his. But, I probably play the more like a Carey Price, were I rely on good positioning.
Since you are from Illinois, and you are most likely a fan of Chicago’s teams like the Hawks and Bears, how does it feel playing in Green Bay when the Bears biggest rival took home a Super Bowl this year (ha/ha)?
Ryan: Big Hawks fan, it’s in the DNA there, my dad had season tickets for decades. I never was a football guy when I lived in Chicago, but when I came to Green Bay with season ticket holders for billets I had to make the conversion..I willingly did!
Speaking of winning championships, you had the opportunity to be apart of the Gamblers Clark Cup win last season as a backup to Steven Summerhays, what did you learn from being there as a 17-year-old last year?
Ryan: Just from seeing how poised and steady Steve was last year gave me that insight to carry over into this year, even though we are two very different goalies.
Green Bay looks poised to make another run this season as well, how do you like the make-up of this years squad compared to the one that won it all in 2009-10?
Ryan: Although we are alot smaller then last year’s team, I believe this year we’ve been able to find scoring not just from our top two lines like last year, which is a plus going into playoffs.
What was your ‘welcome moment’ to the USHL?
Ryan: Winning a shootout against the Roughriders, in thier building, to take over first place in the league.
Do you have a game that stands out as the best one you’ve ever played?
Ryan: Beating Fargo, although I didn’t believe it was the best game I’ve played, it was the most special game because it clinched the Anderson Cup.
You are committed to the University of Miami, what made you decide to join the RedHawks program?
Ryan: The coaching staff is an amazing group of guys. Truely felt right at home with them, which was really nice because at times last year Green Bay felt like a long ways away from home as a 17-year-old. Also, the school is top notch, and it’s relatively close to home.
What is the highlight of your young career so far?
Ryan: Committing to Miami. As a Chicago kid we don’t really have that hometown school for hockey, and Miami was always the one I payed the most attention to growing up, so it was truly a dream come true.
Where was your favorite visiting arena to play in and why?
Ryan: Really hard toss up. Love Playing in Fargo, it’s always a great game between are two clubs. Cedar Rapids for the same reason, and Waterloo because of how much time you have with the massive ice surface.
Who, in your opinion, has the hardest shot in the USHL?
Ryan: Andy Welinksi, Green Bay Gamblers, without question.
A lot of guys like to talk trash on the ice, especially at the tenders, what is the funniest chirp you’ve ever heard while playing?
Ryan: Havent really heard much to be honest, our defense is really good about not letting teams do a whole heck of a lot in front of the net after the whistle.
A lot of goalies are seen as being superstitious, do you have any rituals you go through before or during the course of a game?
Ryan: Shower, and eat some kinda of pasta 6/7 hours before game time, then take a nap.
Most embarrassing song on your iPod?
Ryan: I have some songs by Kesha.
What do you like to do in your downtime from hockey?
Ryan: Well I’m still in high school, so homework, or play video games.