By Warren Kozireski —
Forgive Cornell University freshman Ryan Walsh if he would like to take a bit of a breather after 2023 was quite the whirlwind.
After being named to USHL First All-Star Team after logging a second best in the league 79 points in 61 games with Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, breaking the previous franchise record that stood for 17 seasons, he was then selected in the sixth round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft by Boston, attended their summer development camp and then began his freshman season with the Big Red.
The 6’1”, 181 lb. is already centering Cornell’s second line and had nine points over his first 13 collegiate contests. Three of his five goals have come on the power play.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” fellow freshman and Rochesterian Jake Walsh said about his teammate with Cedar Rapids and now Cornell. “We grew up playing against each other our whole lives so it’s fun to get out and play with him and we ended up here together.”
“Definitely a little bit of a surprise to be given such a role which has been awesome,” Walsh said. “I’ve been trying to take that role…and perform as much as I can and keep that role and get more roles in the future, but (Cornall head coach Mike) Schafer has definitely given me a lot of opportunities for sure.”
Walsh spent some of his development years with the Rochester Coalition and the Rochester Selects and spilt the 2021-22 campaign with Salisbury Prep and the Buffalo Regals U18 team where he netted a combined 98 points in 56 games.
“My youth I stayed in Rochester and ended up going to private school my junior year of high school, but up until then I had a great coach (in Rochester) in Chris Collins and I was thinking about switching organizations, but he was such a good coach to me so I stuck with him for multiple years and I’m glad I did.”
Walsh did not attend the NHL Draft in Nashville but stayed home with his family watching on TV.
“My adviser (Vin Fensore) was at the draft, and he texted me ten seconds before the pick came on the TV, so I had a little bit of a warning, so it was cool. All my family was there. I had an idea; I had couple of teams I thought if I was going to get picked it would be those, but Boston showed the most interest. Every single week I was doing zoom calls, in person interviews, Facetimes, but I talked to a bunch of teams, so I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going to go.
“(Then summer development camp) was awesome; I got to meet other draft picks and the coaching staff, and it was good to meet all the player development guys, because they are the ones I talk to all the time. They’ve been to a bunch of my games.”
Now at the halfway mark of his first season at Cornell, Walsh scored his first collegiate goal in his first game against Minnesota-Duluth and garnered points in four of his first five games, so in many ways, he is not playing like a freshman.
“We have a lot of freshmen (10), so Schafer has definitely given us a lot of opportunities to fill big roles early on which helps build confidence right away. It shows that he trusts you a little bit. He likes a lot of fluidity like first guy back is center. He wants everyone to play every position…he’s instilled that in all the guys.”
(Photos Provided by Cornell Men’s Hockey Dept.)