Steamboat’s Ryan Dingle signs with English hockey squad
Elite Hockey Training camps come to Steamboat next week through July 14
Hockey players in Steamboat don’t have to go far to receive top level coaching. Steamboat Springs-raised Ryan Dingle, back for the summer in the off-season from playing professionally in Europe, begins his seventh year of hosting his Elite Hockey Training camps next week at his hometown Howelsen Ice Arena.
“My playing career has been an amazing path, but to come back home and help the development of Steamboat's youth is equally as rewarding,” said Dingle, who this year will play for England’s Coventry Blaze. “I love seeing that pure joy radiating from a kid who loves hockey like I do. My goal is to put Steamboat on the hockey world's map and hopefully, these camps will help. There’s some great momentum with the local youth hockey program here.”
Local youth hockey advocates are quick to praise Dingle’s camps. “Ryan is a huge asset to our community,” said Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association Director of Hockey Brian Ripley.“He exemplifies what it means to give back to his community through his involvement at the youth level each summer after playing professionally in Europe over the winter. And while he provides top notch instruction at a reasonable cost, more importantly, he’s always positive, full of energy, and sets a great example for our young athletes. We are very lucky to have him.”
The camps run June 19-12 for Squirts and Girls; June 26-30 for High School/Bantam and PeeWees; and July 10-14 for Mites (age 5-7). Dingle is also offering private lessons and a new summer off-ice training program before heading to his new team in mid-August.
Goodbye Scottish accent, hello English intonation.
That’s the storyline for Steamboat Springs-raised, professional hockey player Ryan Dingle, a goal-scoring forward who recently signed a new contract to play for England’s Coventry Blaze.
After helping lead the University of Denver Pioneers to a national championship in 2007, Dingle, 33, played in the AHL and ECHL for four seasons before heading to Europe to play for SG Cortina in Italy in 2011. After four seasons there, he moved to Scotland to play for the Fife Flyers, where he’s spent the past two seasons. Now he’s on to England.
“I had a very successful season and had a lot of offers on the table,” said Dingle, who returns to Steamboat every summer to run his Elite Hockey Training camps, which begin next week. “There was some uncertainty if the Fife Flyers were still going to be in the league — they were considering moving back to mainland Europe. We were having our second child and wanted English as the primary language. “
Dingle is coming off his most successful season in 10 years as a pro hockey player. He was the league’s second highest goal scorer last season despite playing 11 fewer games than the top goal scorer. In 41 games, Dingle scored 31 goals and had 23 assists for 54 points.
Dingle is no stranger to his new coaching staff. Coventry Blaze head coach Danny Stewart was the one who recruited Dingle from his team in Cortina, Italy, to play for the Fife Flyers. Now, he’s brought him to England.
“Bringing Ryan to Coventry was a no-brainer for me,” Stewart said. “I played with him in Fife a couple seasons ago before I retired and saw first hand what he brings. He’s an engine that plays as hard as anybody and does it in all areas of the ice. He has great scoring ability and a knack for goals, which is something that’s hard to teach. He loves to win, and he makes players around him better.”
Stewart also commends Dingle’s attitude when his skates are off.
“Off the ice, he’s a true professional,” Stewart said. “He takes great care of himself and is consistently working to make himself better. He brings a lot of positivity and energy to the dressing room and will play an important part for us this season.”
Dingle’s new team is located an hour-and-a-half drive from London, with the eight-month season beginning in mid-August. Each team in the United Kingdom league — consisting of four teams from Scotland, one from Ireland, one from Wales and six from England — is allowed 14 imported players from outside the country, of which Dingle is a star forward.
At 33, he realizes he’s in the twilight of his playing years, and that the next step in his career is coaching.
He also plans to continue running his Elite Hockey Training camps, which enter their seventh season next week at Howelsen Ice Arena in Steamboat Springs. As well as offering camps for high school/bantams, peewees, squirts and girls, this year he’s also introducing a special camp for mites, ages 5 to 7, and offering private instruction and training,
“It’s been a fun ride, and I’m happy with where my career has taken me,” said Dingle, whose wife, Sophie, gave birth to their second son, Oliver, in Steamboat this May. “I’m proud of it and not afraid of retirement. To play 10 years professionally is no small feat, and I’m proud of what it’s given me both on and off the ice. I love both coaching and playing.”
In the meantime, there are still games to win, scoring titles to chase, and, of course, diapers to change.
“It should be a great season,” he said. “The Coventry Blaze is re-building a bit this year, but I feel confident and comfortable, and I’m coming off my best season yet. And I want to make my kids proud.”
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