Kelownarockets.com recently caught up with Ryan Wade who played for the Rockets between 1994 and 1999. In 303 games Wade put up 255 points, 506 penalty minutes, and wore the C on his jersey for the ’98-’99 season. This weeks throw back player is Ryan Wade.
KR: Hey Ryan, thank you for taking the time to chat.
RW: No problem, thank you.
KR: You played one season in Tacoma before the club moved to Kelowna, how exciting was it to be an original member of the first team here?
RW: It was very exciting moving to Kelowna from Tacoma, and being able to play in Memorial Arena. There was a great atmosphere in that old building with the fans right on top of us.
KR: The Calgary Flames drafted you in 1996, but instead of playing for their farm team you went and played at the University of Alberta. What made you decide to go to school instead?
RW: I had shoulder surgery after my 20-year-old season in Kelowna, and never had the chance to sign a contract with the Flames. My decision to go to school and use the WHL Scholarship package was based on the offers I had to play pro hockey at that time would still be there after my schooling was finished.
KR: You personally won the CIS West point’s title, as well as an MVP in 2004. Your team won three straight CIS West Championships, and one National championship. How cool was it to carry on your success from the WHL to the CIS?
RW: My time at U of A and playing for the Golden Bears was a great experience. We had great teams, and I played with some great players with some really good coaching that made it an easy transition from the WHL to the CIS for me.
KR: What did you major in?
KR: How important do you think getting a post-secondary education is for WHL players?
RW: I think it is very important. The WHL offers you a great league to play in, and a great chance to play in the NHL. If it doesn’t work out the WHL Scholarship package offers a back up plan to go to school and find a career outside of playing hockey. For some after playing University hockey there is still options to play pro hockey, and you have a degree to use when you retire from hockey.
KR: After graduating from school you continued your hockey career, where did you play?
RW: I played one game in Houston of the AHL at the conclusion of my last season at University of Alberta. The start of the next season 2004-2005, Victoria, B.C. was awarded an ECHL franchise, the Salmon Kings that I was able to sign with. I grew up in Victoria and to have the opportunity to play pro hockey in front of friends, and family was an amazing experience. I played in Victoria for four seasons, and then was hired on as an Assistant Coach for the next three seasons. At that time the Chilliwack Bruins moved to become the WHL’s Victoria Royals, unfortunately that forced the ECHL Salmon Kings to cease operations in Victoria. My family, and I decided to move back to Kelowna where I continued to coach at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy for three seasons which also was an excellent experience.
KR: How nice was it to play in your hometown, and alongside former Rocket Kiel McLeod?
RW: Not too many kids that have a dream of playing pro hockey get to do so in their hometown. I was very fortunate to be able to play, and coach in my hometown for seven seasons. It was always nice to see, and play with former Rockets along my travels. Not only Kiel but others such as Kiels’ brother Gavin, Kevin Marsh & Curtis Rich at U of A, and then while with the Salmon Kings I was able to play or coach with Seth Leonard, Dale Purinton, Steve Roberts, Brady Leavold, Quintin Laing & Randall Gelech.
KR: What have you been up to since you retired from playing in 2008?
RW: After coaching with the Salmon Kings, and Pursuit of Excellence, I moved on to work for Canadian Energy Services in the oil and gas industry.
KR: Since you’re living in Kelowna do you get out to many Rockets games?
RW: With my job I work out of town quite a bit but when I am in town my daughter and I try and make it to all the games we can.
KR: You’re involved in the Rockets alumni golf tournament, how important is it to get out there, and help raise money alongside former players?
RW: I feel it is really important to give back, and the golf tournament is a great way for the Alumni to get together while also giving back to the community in which we were all fortunate enough to play in.
KR: How did being a Tacoma/Kelowna Rocket benefit you?
RW: Being able to be fortunate enough to play in the WHL is one thing but to do it for such a first class organization as the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets was something I will be forever grateful for. Bruce and the entire Hamilton family welcomed you into their Rockets family with open arms and treated myself, and my family with the utmost respect. I can’t thank the Hamilton family enough for the way they helped grow me as a person and as a player. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have had in my life without playing in the WHL for the Rocket organization.
KR: Thanks for taking the time Ryan!
RW: Thank you! Go Rockets go!