Ryan Chyzowski’s father, Dave, donned the Team Canada jersey, not just as captain of the gold-medal winning squad at the 1990 IIHF World Junior
Championship, but at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge a couple of years earlier.
His older brother, Nick, also wore the famous Maple Leaf, helping Team Pacific claim a silver medal at the U17 tournament in 2014.
Now it’s Ryan’s turn to play for his country, and even knowing what it meant to his father and seeing first-hand his sibling do the same didn’t truly
prepare him for the feeling.
“It was unreal,” Chyzowski says of slipping on his sweater for the first time. “You grow up watching the World Juniors and dream about playing for Canada,
but when you do, it’s pretty surreal to put on the jersey and be skating around with your teammates.”
Skating for Canada at the U17s has become something of a family business for the Chyzowskis. Dave played in 1988 for Team Pacific (back then, it was the
Quebec Esso Cup and featured five regional squads from across Canada) and finished fourth in a 10-team tournament won by the Soviet Union, which included
Nick’s team lost in the gold medal game to a powerful United States team that included this year’s No. 1 NHL draft choice Auston Matthews, now with the
Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as Noah Hanifin (Carolina Hurricanes), Zach Werenski (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary Flames), all of whom
are already playing in the National Hockey League.
Ryan wasn’t originally named to one of the three Canadian teams, but was added to Team Canada White when Joe Veleno, who could very well be the top pick in
the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, had to pull out of the tournament due to injury.
“After they released the roster and my name I wasn’t on it, it was a little disappointing but it gave me some drive to keep working hard and it ended up
paying off,” says the Medicine Hat Tigers winger, who has netted three goals in nine Western Hockey League tilts during his rookie season.
The turn of events has added even more joy to the family, which all three hockey players will attest is held together by Dave’s wife, Cindy.
“I know all young hockey players aspire to play in the NHL, but to put on that jersey, that Team Canada jersey, is something special. I’m proud of the fact
both my kids are putting on the jersey for the same tournament I played,” says Dave, who was drafted second overall by the New York Islanders in 1989,
played professionally until 2006 and is now director of sales and marketing for the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers.
“It brings back a little of my memories that have slowly faded as I’ve gotten older. It brings up some of the past that I enjoyed. I know exactly what
they’re going through, and that’s neat. You know the nerves. You know the anxiety. You know the excitement. You know they’re scared and they’re learning.
They don’t realize how much they’re learning with every part of these experiences.
“I’m proud of my kids no matter what, whether they’re playing hockey or going to school to become teachers or doctors or lawyers or plumbers. I’m proud of
them no matter what, but this is a reminder of what I went through, brings it up and gives you a proud feeling. It’s fun.”
Sure it’s fun for Ryan, but it’s also a golden opportunity on a couple of levels for the youngest member of the Chyzowski family.
His rookie season in the WHL has had some great moments, but also involved the to-be-expected growing pains while Ryan adjusts. Instead of being the
standout as he was in minor hockey, able to dominate games with his size and skill, he’s learning about dealing with older and stronger players in a
reduced role, as well as developing the 200-foot game coaches demand.
“I’m working right now on my personal game in Medicine Hat. Working to get bigger and stronger, and want to work my way up the team as I get older,” says
Ryan, who has the makings of a potent WHL power forward.
“When you come to this tournament, you get a little more confidence in your game. That’s something I know I will take back with me.”
Another possible highlight? Winning World Under-17 Hockey Challenge gold, which wouldn’t just be an incredible career highlight, but also be one better
than his father and brother.
“Nick didn’t win and I didn’t win, so hopefully Ryan can bring home a gold medal and one-up us. Guaranteed he’d have his medal sitting in his brother’s
room just to make sure he sees it. Jersey, too,” Dave says with a laugh.
“I don’t know if I’d rub it in,” Ryan says. “But there would definitely be some bragging rights.”