Yarmouth’s Ryan Graves makes his NHL debut
It was the call Ryan Graves of Yarmouth had been waiting years for, but had dreamed about for most of his life.
And had worked hard to achieve. Graves, 23, made his NHL debut on Dec. 27 wearing #27 for the Colorado Avalanche in a league game versus the Vegas Golden Knights – an opposing team that didn’t even exist when Graves was drafted in the fourth round by the New York Rangers in 2013.
In a post-game interview with reporters, Graves was asked what it was like to be called up from the Avalanche’s affiliate Colorado Eagles to play in his first official NHL game.
“It was pretty surreal,” he said. “I was pretty excited. I’ve been waiting for that call for a few years now.”
Graves was acquired by the Avalanche franchise in a trade during the 2017-18 season. He had done pre-season NHL exhibition play with the Rangers, and also with the Avalanche (scoring a pre-season goal with both teams) but had never gotten the chance to suit up for an official game.
Asked last summer – as he prepared for the hockey season ahead – if he was discouraged he hadn’t yet gotten to prove himself on an NHL roster, Graves had said, “basically you can’t look back, you just have to look forward and I’m hoping I get an opportunity in Colorado. And if and when I get that opportunity I’ll make the best of it.”
Which is what he did on Dec. 27. The 6-foot-5, 225-lb defenceman had two shots on net, as well as a hit and a block, during his 8:26 of ice time in the game in which the Knights edged the Avalanche 2-1. He told reporters afterwards he was happy with his performance.
In the stands watching his first NHL game on Dec. 27 were his father Ron Graves, mother Monica Brennan and Ryan’s girlfriend Clare Casey, who had all boarded three separate flights on short notice to be there to watch his debut in person. Monica had landed in Halifax after spending Christmas with Ryan in Colorado when she found out he had been recalled by the Avalanche and would be playing his first NHL game.
In Las Vegas Brennan didn’t get a chance to talk with her son prior to the game and she also only found after landing in Las Vegas that he gotten a gash to his arm during the morning skate. But he was determined to play. He told reporters the doctors had stitched him up that afternoon.
“He played a great game,” his mother said. “We are very, very happy for him.”
Ryan’s dad Ron also used the word ‘surreal’ to describe the experience.
“You just wanted him to do well and not make any mistakes and just play to the best of his abilities, which he did,” he said.
“He looked like he blended into the team very, very well.”
Ryan told reporters he did have pre-game jitters, but said in his post-game interview that his coaches and the Avalanche players had told him to just go out, keep it simple and play his game, which he did.
Ryan Graves made his NHL debut on Dec. 27 with the Colorado Avalanche. He is pictured providing post-game interviews.