Skating down the right wing in a rush, Blankemeier crosses to the middle past one defender, he shoots and scores. Chalk up another victory for Dartmouth.
Consider that scoring description a preview of what's in store for fans of Big Green hockey when Oak Park and River Forest High School junior, Ryan Blankemeier, kicks off his highly anticipated college career at the Ivy League school in a few years.
Before Blankemeier bolts for Hanover, New Hampshire, it's important to note that his passion for hockey took root locally, spending countless hours on the ice Saturday mornings at Ridgeland Commons Ice Arena.
"Ridgeland Commons is where I fell in love with the game." Blankemeier said.
He went from the comfortable environs of playing at RCIA to playing in a "house league" in Franklin Park. As his game quickly evolved, Blankemeier worked his way up to playing for the Chicago Young Americans in AAA hockey, known as the most competitive league for his age group. The league consists of three teams from the Chicago area and three teams from the Detroit area.
"This past season I had a breakout year," Blankemeier said. "I play all three forward positions [center, right wing, and left wing]. I think that versatility is important because I can be used in a lot of situations to help my team win."
In addition to his offensive versatility, Blankemeier possesses several other attributes well received on any hockey club.
"Ryan is a great kid who has an outstanding work ethic," said Sean Berens, one of Blankemeier's Chicago Youth Americans coaches. "Ryan is a natural leader with an attitude that makes everyone around him better. He is a coach's dream."
Berens played several years in the NHL, an ambitious hockey path Blankemeier clearly hopes to follow.
He tallied a total of 28 points, scoring 16 goals and assisting on 12 others in just 26 games this past season. Blankemeier and four other Illinois natives, qualified for the competitive Summer Select 17 National Camp held in Buffalo, New York. It was at that hockey showcase Blankemeier, 16, attracted Dartmouth's recruiting attention.
"I caught the eye of several colleges, but it was Dartmouth that stood out to me," he said. "I was excited to commit [to Dartmouth] because I have been interested in that school for a while."
Blankemeier expanded on his rationale for choosing the Ivy League school.
"They have an amazing hockey program with a lot of history," he said, "and it provides me an opportunity to take advantage of a great education while still pursuing hockey."
Dartmouth has produced a handful of alumni that currently play in the NHL.
"Playing at a school like Dartmouth could help me play at the next level," Blankemeier said, "and I'll have a strong degree as a life foundation."
In the short term, Blankemeier is eager to begin his junior year at OPRF.
"I think it is a great school," he said. "There are clubs and activities for everyone, and there is so much diversity among the students."
Answer Book 2016
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2016 Answer Book, please click here.
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