Know­ing his role

Pet­ten carves out his spot with the Os­prey

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Make no bones about it — Clarke’s Beach’s Ryan Pet­ten knows where he ex­cels on the ice.

It’s any area com­monly re­ferred to as the trenches. It is in the cor­ners and along the boards where he can mus­cle op­po­nents off of the puck and gen­er­ate chances for him­self and his team­mates.

The sec­ond year Tri Pen Os­prey for­ward knows he won’t beat you with his hands or his feet. What Ryan does know is he can get the best of his op­po­nents is by us­ing his thick body.

“Ev­ery shift, I have to use my size,” said the 16-year-old Pet­ten when he met with The Com­pass last week. “I like to start down low and work the puck out.”

In a re­cent game, Pet­ten pro­vided the per­fect ex­am­ple of this. You could call it your typ­i­cal Ryan Pet­ten play. He was con­trol­ling the puck along the far boards in the Western Kings’ zone and for some 30 sec­onds, Pet­ten moved up the boards one way be­fore turn­ing his body and head­ing the other way.

Pro­tect­ing the puck with his body, Pet­ten was met with the same re­sis­tance from op­po­nents — a cross-check to the back or a hack at his feet — ev­ery time he moved along the wall. Still, he re­mained stead­fast un­til a scor­ing chance could be gen­er­ated for his club.

It wasn’t the pret­ti­est or the flashiest play, but it is one ap­pre­ci­ated by both his coaches and fans alike. They’re moves he picked up watch­ing pro for­ward Rick Nash. The New York Ranger is ex­cel­lent at us­ing his body to shield the puck from op­po­nents.

The grinder men­tal­ist is some­thing Pet­ten has been hon­ing since he was an atom player wear­ing the red and white of the Bay Arena Rovers. It was then he re­al­ized he was never go­ing to be the fastest skater or the best stick han­dler.

What he was go­ing to be was the best at us­ing his body to his ad­van­tage.

“I grew up with the men­tal­ity,” said Pet­ten. “It’s one of the bet­ter parts of my game and it is some­thing I’ve al­ways tried to do.

“It just clicked one day when I re­al­ized what I had to do.”

Get­ting in shape

When it clicked where his game needed to go, Pet­ten re­al­ized it was time to get in shape. Work­ing with lo­cal coach Nel­son ‘Bo’ Ben­nett up to five days a week, he started turn­ing his body around.

Fat be­came mus­cle and in parts of the game where he was al­ready good at, Pet­ten started to ex­cel at. It be­came eas­ier for him to throw his body into the cor­ner and come out with the puck.

“My skat­ing is bet­ter now,” said Pet­ten. “I’m in bet­ter shape now. I wouldn’t be where I am to­day if it wasn’t for Bo.”

There could be no more ev­i­dence for that state­ment than a play made on Oct. 11. See­ing open ice be­hind a Kings’ de­fender, Pet­ten darted for the spot, re­ceived the puck and pro­ceeded to lever­age his 195 pound frame against his op­po­nent as he scored fall­ing down.

There were times Pet­ten would feel the ef­fects of putting his body on the line ev­ery shift, but since get­ting in shape, he hasn’t felt much of an af­ter ef­fect.

Pre-game rit­ual

Like most ath­letes who play at a high level, Pet­ten has a set of pre-game rit­u­als that rule the day when there is a night game com­ing.

One in­volves a big plate of pasta prior to puck drop, while the other is all about get­ting as much fluid into your body as pos­si­ble.

“Early this sea­son I found my­self get­ting tired,” he said. Pet­ten has be­gun drink­ing plenty of wa­ter on game day. “I try to drink as many bot­tles of wa­ter as I can to keep my­self hy­drated. I have to keep my­self go­ing right un­til the end” Get­ting com­fort­able Last sea­son was an ad­just­ment for Pet­ten. It was his first year on the pro­vin­cial ma­jor midget league cir­cuit and his first get­ting used to a new role.

He was used to be­ing a top tier guy, but on a team laden with vet­er­ans and tal­ent, Pet­ten as­sumed a check­ing role.

He said he “grew into the role” and still man­aged to put up 16 points (six goals, 10 as­sists). This sea­son, he’s as­sumed a larger role with the club and has re­sponded with five goals and two as­sists in just 10 games.

“I’m al­ways think­ing puck first. I want to get to the puck first and win that bat­tle,” said Pet­ten. “You have to have a bit of an edge to your game.”

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Tri Pen Os­prey for­ward Ryan Pet­ten.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Tri Pen Os­prey for­ward Ryan Pet­ten moves along the boards in re­cent pro­vin­cial ma­jor midget ac­tion against the Western Kings at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.

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