Ryan Greene first left home to pursue his passion for hockey when he was 14.
The now 18-year-old from Paradise had dominated the provincial AAA under-15 hockey league and was bound for prep school in South Kent, Conn., With the South Kent School Selects.
That can be a big jump for a 14-year-old to make, but Greene was ready for it.
Through it all, his parents preached hard work and a never-give-up attitude.
It became something Greene has carried with him since he left home at that young age to pursue his hockey dreams.
“That’s been something my parents have always preached to me that’s kind of stayed with me,” said Greene. “When times get tough, you can not give up. You have to work for everything, and nothing’s handed to you. ”
That advice has carried Greene from his hometown to Connecticut and then on to the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League for the last two seasons.
Next season, Greene will suit up with Boston University in the NCAA.
For the time being, however, his passion for hockey has him on the edge of the 2022 National Hockey League entry draft and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
According to NHL Central Scouting, Greene is ranked 46th among North American skaters, after a year that saw him register 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists) in 59 games with the Gamblers.
The 2022 NHL draft is scheduled for the Bell Center in Montreal on July 7-8.
“It’s super exciting times, for sure,” he said. “I’ve dreamed this my whole life and I’ve worked super hard to put myself in this position. So, I’m just trying to continue to work hard and just enjoy the experience because … it only happens once. ”
Greene isn’t the only Newfoundland NHL draft hopeful this year.
Bay Roberts goaltender Riley Mercer is ranked 32nd among North American goaltenders after playing this season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The 18-year-old was 9-11-5 with a 3.62 goals-against average in 29 games with the Voltigeurs.
After a solid season that turned into a promising pre-draft ranking, Greene earned an invitation to the 2022 NHL draft combine.
The six-foot-two, 174-pound center was one of 96 prospects from around the world to attend the combine held at the KeyBank Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo May 30 to June 4.
There, Greene and other top draft hopefuls – such as projected No.1 pick Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley – were put through their paces in front of all 32 NHL teams.
It was the first combine held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was really good. Obviously, once-in-a-lifetime thing, ”said Greene. “I will not get to do something like that again. So I enjoyed it a lot.
“I met a lot of new people there.”
While at the combine, roomed with a linemate from Green Bay, which made things a little easier when it came to getting comfortable.
On top of physical evaluations, the combine gives teams the chance to meet one-on-one with prospects and learn a little more about them.
It gives players the chance to meet with some NHL alumni who now work for teams in the league.
“It was pretty cool, I’ve got to say, meeting a lot of those guys and having some good chats with them,” Greene said. “So I enjoyed it a lot.”
What they’re saying
When draft season rolls around, it isn’t strange to find any number of analysts picking apart each player’s game and producing their own rankings.
The likes of Wright and Cooley will have every aspect of how they play dissected and analyzed by the time they have their names called in Montreal.
The same applies for Greene. Of the various draft previews, he is ranked as high as 56th (Bob McKenzie) and as low as 88th (Peter Baracchnni of The Hockey News).
For the May 31 rankings, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman has Greene 70th among his top draft hopefuls, while The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler has him 71st.
“Greene displays slick puck skills, often being able to put pucks between sticks and legs. He shows good imagination as a handler and passer. He can hit seams at a strong rate and has some power-play ability due to his vision and shot, ”wrote Pronman.
Players from this province have had a good run the last couple of years when it comes to getting drafted.
This latest run started in 2019 when the Colorado Avalanche selected Alex Newhook of St. John’s 16th overall. That was followed by Dawson Mercer of Bay Roberts, who was selected 18th by the New Jersey Devils and continued when Mount Pearl’s Zach Dean was selected by the Las Vegas Golden Knights 30th overall in 2021.
While it is unlikely, but not out of the question, that Greene will continue the streak of a Newfoundlander being taken in the first round, he is honored to be a part of this latest draft renaissance for Newfoundland athletes.
“I’m definitely excited to be a part of that and it’s an honor to be a part of that group, Newfoundlanders who are on the rise a little bit,” he said. “I think that just means Newfoundland hockey is taking big strides . “