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Getting to Know: Defenseman #7 Ryan Ufko

By Chicago Steel, 03/26/20, 3:00PM CDT

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What is your first memory of getting into hockey and how did you become a defenseman?

My neighbor actually got me started playing hockey, he asked me to go skate one day and I said sure and it just took off from there. I was originally a center when I was little. When I was still young we had some defensemen on my first youth team and they couldn't really skate backwards so our coach took four guys that could skate backwards and put them on D. That's how I became a defenseman. 

It was your first year at this level and you're one of the youngest guys on the team. How was your adjustment to the game and was anyone a specific influence?

I thought it went pretty well at first. It was a lot different, a lot faster and more intense. As the year went on it felt more natural, just like last year did. All the coaches were great and then I'd say probably John Spetz, he sat next to me in the locker room so he talked to me a lot about what he would do and what he could see. That really helped me.

What was your favorite goal from this year? 

I would probably say the goal against Team USA.

Can you describe the play?

I came off the bench and I remember seeing Mackie Samoskevich pull up and there was nobody on the weak side of the ice so I just saw my shot and took it.

Was there anything that caught you by surprise this season? 

I think Coach Moore being hired by the Toronto Marlies, that kind of caught everyone by surprise but I think the team handled it really well, our season took off from there. I don't think there was anything different with Coach Sheahan taking over because we all know him. Around that time our team really came together and that's when we went on our winning streak.

From the start of the season until now, what has been the biggest change you've made to your game?

I think I added a lot more poise. When I have the puck I manipulate the defenders more, especially in the offensive zone. It's me reading them and not them reading off me. 

When you have an off-day are you spending it inside or outside?

It depends, if the guys are going to do something I'll definitely go but if not, I'll be on the couch watching TV or in my room playing Xbox. I like Fortnite or NHL, Spetz is the best on the team at NHL. He crushes everyone.