Thunderbirds grad Bottrill finds new home for ’20-21 with NCDC’s Kings
The whole world has changed in 2020, but for Ryan Bottrill, the hockey landscape amid the COVID-19 pandemic has led him to find a new home in Foxboro, Mass.
“I’ve loved it so far,” said Bottrill, of the South Shore Kings, playing in the Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC). “Great coaching, great group of guys.”
Bottrill is a 2002-born native of Scottsdale, and he joined the Kings only recently – playing his first of five games on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
The Kings’ recent lineup changes, including adding players with NCAA Division I commitments already in hand, has seen them earn two of their total three wins on the still young season. The Kings’ top-level junior team has a long and illustrious history that includes alumni and current NHLers Charlie Coyle and Chris Wagner. The duo paired up as Kings teammates in the late 2000s, and are reunited again with the Boston Bruins.
It’s a lot to live up to, and Bottrill and his teammates are continuing to push the Kings towards better days.
“Our team is trending in the right direction. We’ve had some tough losses and good wins, but when we put it together and play a full 60 minutes, we can be one of the best teams,” Bottrill added.
Bottrill, a self-described “power forward with high hockey sense and good vision on the ice,” was led to the Kings by his advisor.
“Before getting here, I thought it was a good Tier II league, but still pretty new,” said Bottrill. “It has definitely exceeded my expectations this year especially. The play has been really fast. My confidence has gone up since starting with the Kings. I have a good relationship with the coaches and I like the systems they’ve put in place, that can help me be the player I know I can be.”
Although born and raised in Arizona, it was the state on the other end of the Four Corners where Bottrill’s love for hockey began.
“My grandparents live in Colorado, and when I went up there to visit, we went to a Colorado Avalanche game. That’s what got me into hockey, and they are still one of my favorite teams,” said Bottrill.
After that first Avs game, he joined a Learn to Play program at the age of six. Soon enough, he was progressing to the point of joining the Jr. Coyotes organization, where he more recently played his 13U and 14U AAA years. He was teammates there with 2021 NHL Draft prospect and University of Minnesota recruit Matthew Knies and Arizona State recruit Josh Doan, son of the Coyotes great Shane Doan.
“The Jr. Coyotes was a great organization with a lot of really good coaches. I loved my time there,” he added.
For two 16U seasons, Bottrill made the move to his grandparents’ house and played with the Colorado Thunderbirds, leading the T-Birds in 2018-19 scoring with 89 points in 62 games.
He was a T-Birds teammate with, among others, 2020 NHL Draft picks Ty Smilanic (Florida Panthers) and Norwegian import Ole Julian Bjørgvik Holm (Columbus Blue Jackets).
“I loved playing for the Thunderbirds. Angelo Ricci was a great coach, and those are two years I’ll forever remember,” said Bottrill. “We had some really good teams.”
His Tier II career began in 2019-20, and he said the journey has been “a really good learning experience.”
“I’ve grown a lot as a player,” he added.
This growth, in just over 12 years total of playing hockey, has earned him college hockey interest. As a 2002 birth year, he still has two more seasons of junior eligibility, giving him time to find the perfect fit.
“I’ve heard from a few colleges, but nothing super serious,” he said. “It’s a lot of just getting to know each other. Coming back to the South Shore Kings is something I definitely can see happening (for 2021-22). I’ve loved it so far, no complaints.”
— Joshua Boyd/USPHL.com
(Nov. 25, 2020)