By John Lachmann
INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Siroky is still fairly new to the United States Hockey League, but the 17-year-old Miami commit could not be in a better situation.
Siroky, the forward in his second season with the Green Bay Gamblers, took the ice for the 33rd time this season against the Indiana Ice in a 6-4 loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday.
With current RedHawks freshman Ryan McKay in net, Green Bay won the Clark Cup last season, and despite Sunday's loss the Gamblers are off to a 20-15 start this season.
Siroky put himself on the map when he led the U.S. Under-17 team in scoring in the Five Nations Tournament two years ago, recording three goals and three assists in four games.
This season, Siroky has nine goals, four assists and a plus-1 rating after playing just three games for the Gamblers in 2011-12.
As the season has progressed, so has Siroky's offense. He had just one goal in one assist in his first 10 games this season, but he has eight goals and three assists in his last 23 games including five goals in his last 12.
Siroky, a six-footer who already weighs 200 pounds, recorded goals in back-to-back games Jan. 5-6 at Dubuque and Chicago.
RedHawkey takes a deeper look at future RedHawk Ryan Siroky:
Writer's disclaimer: Whenever RedHawkey is viewing a future RedHawk for the first time, it always informs readers that it understands any analysis provided here is based on what is obviously a very small sample size.
Height: 6-0. Weight: 200. Age: 17 (will be 18 by the start of 2013-14 season).
GP: 33. G: 9. A: 4. Pts.: 13. Plus-minus: +1. PIM: 32.
Analysis: Siroky played right wing on the fourth line with Sebastian Weberg and Adam Winborg. He also logged some time on the penalty kill, which is encouraging because that means Green Bay has confidence in his defensive potential.
Siroky was at his best while trying to create offense on Sunday. He eluded a defender and made a nice feed to Barrett Kaib at the blue line for a one-timer that was shagged.
He also looked at ease taking a pass down the left wing and backhanding the puck on net.
And he made a spin move as he crossed the blue line that eluded his defender and would've created a scoring chance had his linemate not jumped offside.
Maybe Sunday was an aberration, but every single time Siroky was in a battle along the boards or tied up in open ice, he lost the puck. Every time.
Of course, he's only 17, this is just one game and only the 36th of his USHL career. And at 200 pounds, hopefully he'll learn to use his weight better to muscle opponents off of the puck.
Siroky also looked like he was unclear of his defensive assignments at times. At one point he did a full circle looking to pick up an opponent, and another time an Ice forward pivoted along the boards and Siroky kept going in the initial direction.
The good news was at least he was willing to go into the corners to battle for the puck, as Siroky definitely worked during his limited shifts. He was also the second-last Green Bay skater off the ice during warm-ups, another sign of a hard worker.
Many USHL teams run their shifts longer than at higher levels, and Green Bay was no exception on Sunday. Siroky had shifts of 1:32 and 1:14 on Sunday, although being on the fourth line, he was limited to less than a minute of ice time in the third period.
Because of special teams he remained on the bench late in the second period as well, and he ended up taking just three shifts for about a minute in a half over the final 31 minutes.
Notes from Saturday:
First period—Lost two battles in the corner, including a turnover in the defensive zone…came on at the end of a penalty kill, took a pass down the left wing and backhanded a puck on net that was covered.
Second period—Couldn't knock down a clear along the boards in the offensive zone...went offside, squelching a potential scoring chance…nice move along boards, reversing direction and sending an excellent feed to Barrett Kaib for a one-timer that was corralled and held for a whistle…lost battle along the boards in the offensive zone…nice spin move inside the blue line, but teammate was offside.
Third period—Unable to clear a puck along the boards in the defensive zone…puck taken away in offensive zone, linemate took penalty to avoid scoring chance.
Future at Miami: We can't state enough that this was our first time watching Siroky in action. Green Bay as a team looked flat, evidenced by a 6-4 loss to a team that is second-last in its conference, and flatness can be contagious.
But if Sunday is any indication of Siroky's present ability, another season in juniors would probably be helpful. You can't say enough about how much playing on a winning team with a solid coaching staff can do for a young player.
He's a big kid who is not slow, so like Sean Kuraly a couple of years ago he may be relearning the game while playing in a bigger body.
With Miami's current forward depth – even with the loss of Marc Hagel, Steve Mason and Curtis McKenzie after this season – playing time could be limited next season for an incoming forward still in development mode.
Whether he comes in for the 2013-14 season could be a numbers game. Anthony Louis is expected to begin his Miami career this fall, and with the departure of defenseman Garrett Kennedy – who could play forward – the RedHawks could bring Siroky in for organizational depth, especially if someone unexpectedly leaves Miami in the off-season.
Green Bay did allot Siroky some penalty killing time, so if he can be a solid PK forward and win 1-on-1 battles in addition to his offensive ability he could become an Alden Hirschfeld-type forward.