Ryan Stepien looks to help Saginaw Spirit make a run for the OHL playoffs, News (Hamilton Jr Bulldogs)

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Ryan Stepien looks to help Saginaw Spirit make a run for the OHL playoffs
Submitted By Dianne Skirving on Friday, December 29, 2017
Stoney Creek native enjoying his rookie season with Michigan club
SPORTS Dec 28, 2017 by Mike Pearson  Stoney Creek News

After playing all of his minor hockey with the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs, Ryan Stepien found himself on the other side when his Saginaw Spirit squad visited FirstOntario Centre on Dec. 9.

While facing the Ontario Hockey League Hamilton Bulldogs for the first time in his hometown, the Stoney Creek native couldn’t help but reminisce about his minor hockey days. He started with the Jr. Bulldogs at the novice level, when he was eight.




“It just seems so familiar to see that logo,” Stepien said in a post-game interview. “And sometimes I just think, ‘Wow, I played for that team for a long time.’”

Stepien is enjoying his chances to play as a fourth line right winger on a young Saginaw team. He’s one of eleven rookie players on the 2017-18 roster.

The five-foot-nine, 170-pound forward has three goals and two assists in 19 games thus far this season.

Despite the outcome of his team’s Dec. 9 game — a 7-1 loss to Hamilton — Stepien said it was good to be back in his hometown.

“It’s just a good feeling. When you have people watching you. It’s just a fun game. You get to see a lot of people.”

Stepien, 16, said his teammates have been very supportive in helping him make the transition to life in Michigan.

“It’s been really easy to adjust. The guys made it really easy on me,” he said.

That support has allowed Stepien to focus on adjusting to the OHL style of play.

 “It’s a lot to take in,” he said. “It’s such a quick step from minor hockey straight to the OHL.”

 

Stepien said the speed of the game — which demands quicker decision-making — is the biggest change from minor hockey.

“You just have to make your decisions really fast and know where to be,” he said.

Looking ahead to the new year and the remainder of the season, Stepien hopes to help the Spirit remain in the thick of the OHL Western Conference playoff race. Through 32 games, the Spirit have a 17-12-3 record.

“My personal goals would probably be just to play on a winning team, work hard every day and just to get better as a player,” said Stepien.

Stepien was selected in the third round — 41st overall — in the Ontario Hockey League draft in April. He ended his final season with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs in February, posting 27 goals and 17 assists in the South Central Triple A loop.

by Mike Pearson

Mike Pearson is Editor of the Stoney Creek News. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Printed from hamiltonjrbulldogs.com on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 12:17 AM