Rekindling an old Flame: Quinn Ryan reminisces at ACHA National Tournament
While the ACHA National Tournament is known for its intensity, thrilling victories and stunning defeats, one of the hallmarks of the tournament is the way it brings the hockey community together.
With old and new faces gathering to watch the best of the ACHA battle it out, one familiar face to the Flames made an appearance in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
Quinn Ryan, who donned the Flames sweater from 2016-2021, made the trip to watch his alma mater in the ACHA Tournament, which is taking place just 20 minutes from the city he plays ECHL hockey.
Ryan spent five years on the men’s D1 team, totaling 88 goals and 147 assists in 147 games with Liberty. The forward’s style of play thrilled crowds at the LaHaye Ice Center, while his character and heart off the ice influenced his team in a unique way.
Now, two seasons later, the New Jersey native jumped at the opportunity to see his former team play in person.
“I was really excited when I heard they were coming up here,” Ryan said. “I was counting down the days. I couldn’t wait to see everyone.”
When Ryan first moved to ECHL ranks, he spent the majority of the 2022-23 season with the Utah Grizzlies, totaling 12 goals and 12 assists in 57 games. In September 2022, the forward moved on from Utah to Massachusetts, signing a contract with the Worcester Railers.
“It’s been fun. It’s always been a dream to play pro hockey, so it’s fun to get that opportunity and be back on the East Coast. I’m not that far from home, just a couple of hours away, which is really nice.”
Ryan’s 49 games played for the Railers have brought him 15 goals and 25 assists. More importantly, however, the transition has brought vital improvements to his game.
“My decision-making is quicker,” Ryan said. “You’re basically forced to make quicker decisions, move the puck faster and skate faster.”
While Ryan is living out his dream of playing in the professional ranks, seeing his former team play on postseason ice brings a flood of memories back for the 27-year-old. Ryan was a member of the 2021 Flames team that fought all the way to the ACHA’s Final Four, only the second time in program history Liberty had advanced that far.
Reminiscing on those moments brings only good memories to the mind of the New Jersey native.
“I was at the hotel with some of the guys the other day and was telling them, ‘I miss this, just hanging out in the hotel with the whole tournament in front of you,’” Ryan said. “It’s a really good time. Hopefully, they make the most of it and go far … I’m trying just to hang out and be one of the guys for a bit and talk to familiar faces.”
Currently holding a 31-26 record, the Railers are merely one month away from a playoff push. As Ryan prepares for the intensity of postseason hockey, he also recognizes the excitement his time in the ECHL has brought him.
“My first ever pro game last year I scored in, so that was a cool moment there to have my first goal in my first game,” he said. “Hopefully we make a deep playoff run, and I’ll have a new favorite moment.”
The ability to cheer on his former team in the midst of it all, however, has been a sheer delight.
“The atmosphere, the staff and the players at Liberty is pretty unbeatable,” Ryan said. “Its pretty fun just to come back and see everybody and get a glimpse of that so far.”
Annie Cory is the Sports Editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter @anniecory1