To say that Ryan Reader has experienced a lot in his junior hockey career would be an understatement, and the defenseman from Granite City, Ill. would be the first person to tell you that.
“We’ve definitely had our ups and downs,” said Reader. “My first year here wasn’t the best for us: I think we only had twelve wins. But the next two years, we produced more and better players, and it just got better and better from there.”
After finishing his junior career with his second straight trip to the NA3HL Silver Cup Tournament with the St. Louis Jr. Blues, Reader will continue his hockey career at McKendree University, located in Lebanon, Illinois. The Bearcats are an ACHA D-II program and are the defending MACHA champions.
In his three seasons with the Jr. Blues, Reader served as a constant presence in the club’s defensive corps, playing a tough, stay-at-home style. In 2016-17, Reader also managed to post a career-high goal count of 3, adding 13 assists in the process. He finished the season with a plus/minus rating of +47, also a personal best, and played 6 of the Jr. Blues’ 8 post-season fixtures, recording no points but finishing on +5.
Reader is especially proud of his playoff appearances, noting that 2015-16 will stand out as his favorite memory with the Jr. Blues because “being on a team that made it to Silver Cup, it was something I had never been a part of. I had never really been on a winning team before then, so I’ll remember that for a long time.”
Jr. Blues head coach Chris Flaugher said that “Ryan wasn’t always the flashiest of defensemen on the scoresheet or the ice, but that was really part of what made him such a great asset during his time with our program. Our loss is really McKendree’s gain, and we know Ryan will do well up in Lebanon.”
Reader cited the team culture, new facility and location as his main factors in choosing to play for the Bearcats. He plans to major in criminal justice at McKendree.