Six Nations own Ryan Davis had a storied OHL career full of many great accomplishments and life-long memories.
Reminiscing on his career, this hard-nosed forward who was drafted in 1995 in the second round — 36th overall by the Owen Sound Platers — experienced the biggest thrill when three years later he was playing all be it with another team, in the Memorial Cup.
“The biggest highlights of my junior career was when I got traded to the Guelph Storm in ’98. We won Guelph’s first OHL championship and went to the Memorial Cup in Spokane Washington as the Ontario champs and represented the OHL,” Davis said.
“We played against Val d’or, the Q champs, Portland Winterhawks the WHL champs and the host Spokane Chiefs.” In mentioning some former NHL stars who played Davis added,
“To name a few players and people, there was Roberto Luongo, who I scored two goals on in the round robin game. Mike Babcock (future NHL coach) coached Spokane, Marian Hossa played for Portland and was the best player there and the best player in junior I ever played against.”
In talking about that ’98 Guelph team Davis went on to add, “We had a well-coached, well rounded team that could play any style of game.”
Davis found himself thriving on Guelph’s checking line where he prided himself on slowing down and frustrating the opposition’s top offensive line. During the Memorial Cup, Guelph ended up losing against Portland and Davis was ejected for a controversial questionable hit on Hossa.
“It was our assignment to shut down all the top lines and players and I always thrived at that job. I always loved doing it,” Davis said. “Playing people hard and stuff. Making things hard and difficult and not easy for all them skilled players. I was never a big scorer in junior, never big into penalty minutes, never big assist guy, but my legacy and what I want to be remembered for was as a teammate who stuck up for himself and his teammates. A hard worker, played with heart, work ethic and desire and just loved the game and loved to play.”
As a teenager, Davis’ elite hockey skills got noticed early as he found himself playing at the age of 14 years-old for the Port Dover Jr. C Clippers before jumping the following season to Jr. ‘B’ where he played for the hometown Ohsweken Golden Eagles.
“I got to play with some of my local heroes that I grew up watching in minor hockey,” Davis said in reference to his year playing in Port Dover.
“Those guys took me under my wing and looked after me as I was just a kid trying to find my way. Dude Bomberry, Brandon Hill, Blake Martin, Craig Macdonald, Bob Henry and Nathan MacDonald were some of the guys from home, Six Nations that I got to play with that season. We also had a good group of guys and a good team that got along and coaches and management that treated me good and I will always remember my first year in Junior ‘C’.” In regards to his experience at Junior ‘B’ Davis went on to add,
“The following season I chose to stay home and play for our local Junior B team the Ohsweken Golden Eagles. I was 15 now turning 16, so it was my draft year in the OHL. As a player I never looked at it as trying to get drafted because I was always a player that just wanted to play.”
During that season the Golden Eagles struggled with only eight wins, but it was still a memorable campaign for the teenaged Davis who got to do what he enjoyed most which was play hockey with his friends.
“I got to play with some buddies and we had a good bunch of guys that had fun and good attitude towards the situation we were in,” Davis said. “I never looked at Jr B as in trying to get drafted. I looked at Jr. B as a step to try to get to another level. That people were watching you as a hockey player. That scouts were in the stands to see players that they would want on their team. That could be anything. NCAA, college and university as well as the OHL and NHL. Because you never knew who came to watch the games.” Davis went on to add,
“You never knew who came to watch the games. I always wanted to try my best and show my heart and my effort. To always try my best and be the hardest worker out on the nice so that I could be counted on by my coaches and teammates. I think back to my year of junior B and the biggest thing I think of and the reason I got drafted to the OHL was because I got to play.”
During that season Davis represented the Golden Eagles at the all-star game where he impressed and definitely opened eyes with a two- goal effort.
”I just wanted to represent Ohsweken and Six Nations and where I came from. To show all them scouts that me and our team wasn’t just a bunch of misfits who never cared about hockey.”
Prior to the OHL draft, Davis received lots of interest from scouts, coaches and management from various teams.
During this time, Davis and his family met with Oshawa Generals head scout Donnie Chrysler who told them that the team planned on drafting Davis at the OHL draft.
Certain that he would be picked by the Generals, Davis who was dressed in a new suit travelled with his parents to Maple Leaf Gardens for the 1995 OHL Draft.
To his surprise, it was Owen Sound who ended up calling his name second round in the OHL draft.
“I was in total shock but it also showed me how much they wanted me,” Davis said.
“Ray Mckelvie drafted me and told me, he watched me all season and watched me improve and thought I could be a building block in helping for a rebuild in Owen Sound. Oshawa had the 38th pick in the second round and Donnie Chrysler was so pissed off at Owen Sound for taking me but as you and people know, things happen for a reason.”
Living away from home, Davis admitted that while feeling excitement, he was also feeling some nervousness being away from family and friends in a strange unfamiliar place.
“You really learn how to grow up fast,” Davis said. “I had great billet family in Ron and Ann Kidd. They cared for me like their own kids which really helped the transition.”
During that first season, Davis saw limited ice, and when needed wasn’t afraid to chuck the knuckles.
“My rookie year was a solid one. I never got to play much but learned fast that the veterans ran the team and that ice-time was earned,” Davis said. “I got one shift, one game, and before we hit the ice, the coach said do not get scored on. Our line ended up getting scored on. It wasn’t my guy that scored but our whole line got benched for it. You listened really fast that you better listen to the coach or you didn’t play.”
Regarding fighting, Davis stated, “My first year as well, I never took any bull on the ice. I fought for myself and teammates and dropped the gloves many nights to just protect myself and stand up for myself. If you stand up for yourself and let people know you don’t put up with the bullshit on the ice, then they will leave you alone and give you the respect out there.”
Playing in what was his third season with Owen Sound is when Davis got shipped to Guelph.
Summing up what was a solid OHL career Davis stated,
“I got a ring, I held the trophy, I got pictures and I got the memories from junior,” Davis said. “It goes by in the blink of an eye and I loved it.”
Breaking into the OHL as a fresh- faced rookie in 1995/96, Davis showcased his offensive skills as he scored 11 goals and 20 points while racking up 62 penalty minutes in 60 games.
The following season Davis’ offensive numbers jumped as he improved with 23 goals and 43 points while this time earning 112 penalty minutes.
In his third OHL campaign, this veteran started off well as he scored 11 goals and 21 points in 31 games before being shipped off to Guelph where eventually he would get the thrill of playing in the Memorial Cup.
Playing on the shutdown line for Guelph, Davis scored three goals and six points and 63 penalty minutes in 26 games, before following that up with a career season the following season.
During that 1998/99 season, which was his last year, Davis exploded offensively with 25 goals and 53 points along with 77 penalty minutes.
“I would want to be remembered for being a teammate that stuck up for himself and his teammates. A hard worker who played with heart, work ethic and desire and just loved the game and loved to play,” Davis said.
A few years earlier during the summer of 1996, Davis fulfilled that ultimate dream when in St. Louis he heard his name being called in the sixth round — 142nd overall of the NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres.
A moment, he still fondly remembers.
“That was a dream come true that day,” Davis said. “To just realize that Buffalo was going to give me a chance to get my foot in the door. It was a memory I will never forget to have your name called and get to put on that jersey and be a part of the franchise and get to play with and practice with the best players in the world and see if you can fit in with them and try to earn a spot and chase your dreams of making it.”
In total Davis attended two Sabres training camps in 1996 when Ted Nolan was the coach and in ’97 when it was Lindy Ruff behind the bench. Prior to that first training camp, Davis was working out in Buffalo with established Sabres such as Rob Ray, Matthew Barnaby, Brad May along with other Sabres draft picks. In training camp Davis got to skate with such Sabres superstars as future hall of famers Pat LaFontaine and goalie Domink Hasek.
Davis did play some pre-season exhibition games for Buffalo but never played a regular season or playoff game. Still, there are no regrets for this former athlete who stressed that he loved every minute of his career.
“My dream and all I ever wanted to do was play hockey and try to make my dream come true. One thing about it all is that I would never change it and the advice I have for the younger ones chasing their dream is you got to love it. It’s just a kid’s game but I love hockey and still do to this day.”
No doubt it was an incredible ride for Six Nations Ryan Davis.
Six Nations hockey player Ryan Davis is all smiles as he proudly holds the OMHA trophy with his dad. Ryan would go on to have a magical junior and OHL career which saw him in 1998 play for Guelph in the Memorial Cup.
Davis would also experience the thrill of hearing his name called at the NHL draft as he was selected sixth round, 142ndd overall by the Buffalo Sabres. Looking back, Davis said that he wouldn’t change a thing and that he loved every second of playing.