GANDER, N.L. – Ryan Matheson is thrilled to be part of hockey history in his hometown.
The former captain of the Amherst Ramblers has been signed by the expansion Gander Flyers of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League for the coming season. In fact, he was the first player signed by the team.
“It’s really special to think I’m the first player they signed,” Matheson said Thursday. “I grew up playing minor hockey and midget in Gander and I’ve heard the stories and seen photos in the hall of fame about the team. I’m honoured to be part of it.”
When he was home for Christmas last year, Matheson heard some talk about the Flyers being reborn after a 30-year hiatus. After arriving home from Amherst after the Maritime Junior Hockey League season and his graduation from the Nova Scotia Community College, he was asked by his father – a longtime coach and supporter of hockey in the Gander area – to attend a meeting to gauge interest in applying for an expansion team.
“I knew that if I wasn’t playing university hockey somewhere that it would be nice to come back to Newfoundland to play senior hockey. It’s a very good league with a lot of guys who played major junior, in the Maritime league, university and in the AHL and East Coast League,” Matheson said. “It’s going to be different going from a team where I was one of the older players to a league in which I will be one of the younger players. It’s going to be an adjustment for sure.”
In 43 games last season with the Ramblers, Matheson had five goals and 30 assists for 35 points. He added five assists in 12 playoff games.
The team will play in the league with the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, Conception Bay North CeeBees (which is coached by Corey Crocker), Clarenville Caribous, the Corner Brook Royals and the Mount Pearl Blades.