Buffalo Jr. Sabres forward Ryan Schmelzer (photo credit - Catherine Reid/OJHL Images) has confirmed his commitment to join the Canisius College Golden Griffins beginning with the 2014-15 Atlantic Hockey season.
The native of East Amherst, New York kicked off his junior hockey career in 2010-11 as a member of the local Wheatfield (now Buffalo) Blades Junior 'B' club that also competed in Canada as a member of the OHA's Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League's (GOJHL) Golden Horseshoe Conference. The 17-year old rookie would be one of the club's best players all season, leading the Blades with 22 assists and 37 points, including 16 power play points, in 50 regular season games played. His potential combined with his efforts throughout the season, earned Schmelzer his first taste of Junior 'A' action, getting the call to play three games for his hometown Buffalo Jr. Sabres.
The now 6'1", 175 lbs. forward would turn the trial run into a full-time position with the Sabres in 2011-12 and he would not disappoint, recording 11 goals and 30 points in 41 games played to finish sixth on the club in scoring during the regular season. Schmelzer would score his first OJHL goal during the first game of the season and later notched his first Junior 'A' hat trick in Brampton. Picking up confidence as the season progressed, Schmelzer and his teammates peaked at the right time, winning the franchise's first-ever playoff round, while he would lead the team in scoring with seven assists and 11 points in eight playoff contests. Following the season, Schmelzer would also be named the Jr. Sabres top vote-getter in the OJHL’s first-ever Fan Favourite Award balloting.
Schmelzer entered 2012-13 as one of the club's leaders both on-and-off the ice and was named an alternate captain (for home games) by new bench boss Michael Peca. Playing for one of the OJHL's most explosive offensive units, Schmelzer finished second on the club, and tied for eleventh overall in the OJHL, with 67 points, including the league's ninth best assist total with 43 helpers. By helping lead the Sabres to the South-West Conference title, Schmelzer would earn the Gongshow Gear, South-East Conference Player-of-the-Month Award for January by registering 17 points in 7 games played, while also being named the first-ever CJHL 1st Star of the Month, a national recognition for his efforts. He would also be named a member of the OJHL West Division All-Star Team that competed at the 2012 Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge held in Wellington, Ontario.
Congratulations to Ryan and best of luck during his final season of OJHL action!
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)