This past week, Maple Ridge, BC product Ryan Butler announced his commitment to the NCAA Division III Adrian College Bulldogs. Butler, 20, grew up under the heavy scrutiny of the Pursuit of Excellence hockey program, before slowly making his way across the prairies through Melville, to OCN, and then finally arriving in Steinbach.
Although the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Pistons weren’t Butler’s home for long, they were his final nesting place as a junior hockey player within Canada. Having arrived in Steinbach via trade from the Blizzard on January 10, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound forward put together a strong two months of play, racking up six goals, 19 points and 14 penalty minutes in 19 regular season games for Paul Dyck’s Pistons, before putting up another goal, assist and three penalties in four playoff games prior to the league-wide shutdown.
“Ryan was an excellent addition for us as he fit in seamlessly with our group,” said GM and head coach Dyck in a team-issued press release. “His character is top notch and he is an extremely coachable player. He played a large role in our success down the stretch and we are excited to see him continue his development at the NCAA level next season.”
Now, having signed his letter of intent with the Bulldogs, Butler will travel south to the small campus of Adrian College in Michigan, where he will pursue the continuation of his hockey career, while balancing his postsecondary studies.
Although it was the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the 2019-20 season, and not the loss of a playoff round, Butler will be hungry for redemption. Dealt to a contender midway through the season, Butler’s 24 goals and 52 points in 47 career MJHL games could have come in handy, should the league’s first-place Pistons (42-10-8) have gone on to a long playoff run. Already having beaten their competition in four straight games in the first round of this spring’s postseason, Butler and the Pistons appeared to be on the right track for MJHL playoff glory.
In joining a Bulldogs squad that went 21-5-3 in 29 games this past year, Butler will hope to continue the trend of winning culture, previously found within the Adrian program over the past number of years. The Bulldogs finished the 2019-20 season in first place in the NCHC South Conference, while putting up the sixth-most victories across the entire 91-team NCAA Division III. The NCAA hockey season typically gets fully underway in mid-October.