Season with Tigers leads Stone to junior hockey opportunity with USPHL’s Generals in ’22-23
Ryland Stone’s hockey journey has certainly been unique.
Born in Kazakhstan, Stone was adopted when he was five years old and moved to Texas. He started his hockey career in the Dallas area, but his family later moved to Tampa, Fla., when he was 10 and that’s where he calls home now.
Last season, Stone jumped to the Colorado Springs Tigers’ 16U AAA team and after a solid season there, will play junior hockey in 2022-23 for the USPHL’s Richmond Generals.
“I got this opportunity at the CCM Showcase in Denver about a month ago,” explained Stone. “My advisor and longtime coach (Corey Clarks) said he wanted to try to get (Richmond coach) RC Lyke to watch one of my games. After the game, Corey brought over Coach Lyke to talk to me. He said that he liked my gritty style of play, my shot-blocking abilities, and said that I would be a good fit for his Generals team.
“More importantly, he talked with me on some areas to improve to my game and how he wanted to help me develop as a player. That same night, he sent me a contract.”
Stone noted that playing in Richmond can lead to the continuous climbing of the hockey ladder.
“I like the fact that Coach Lyke seems like he’s tough and will be hard on you at times,” Stone said. “The Richmond Generals have also sent a lot of kids to higher-level juniors and to college, and that’s what I am looking forward to. I am excited and nervous about leaving home, but it’s the path that seems best for me. My family moved with me to Colorado last season and hosted three players, so I am looking forward to the opportunity to billet.”
In looking at the 2021-22 season with the Tigers, Stone believes it could be a turning point in his career.
“This past season with the Colorado Springs Tigers was a roller coaster of emotions,” said Stone. “The Tigers are a great organization that really works to develop each player. My team had a rocky start with a coaching change in the first month of the season. We went through some rough patches, but I feel like the team as a whole got better and we learned a lot from each other this year. It was definitely a season of growth for me as my first year on the scene as a AAA player and recently moving to Colorado from Florida.”
Stone’s Tigers team started off the season with head coach Eric Schlie (he scouted Stone at the CCM Showcase the previous year) before he got an opportunity to coach at the NAHL level. The Tigers finished the season with Luc Trombetta behind the bench.
“The biggest part about last season was the exposure, for sure,” said Stone. “All the talent in the league (NAPHL) helps you become a better player. If you play against people that are bigger and better than you, it pushes you to become a better player.”
Now with junior hockey on the horizon, Stone has reachable goals for the immediate future.
“It is definitely appealing going to a league that moves so many players to college hockey,” Stone said. “College hockey has always been a dream of mine.
“My short-term hockey goals for this season are to put up some points with the Generals and really work on my puck possession. My long-term hockey goal is to play a higher level of junior hockey and to play in college. After college, I’m interested in a career in firefighting.”
— Matt Mackinder
(June 29, 2022)