Ryan Timar has plenty to be thankful for.
The Alpena IceDiggers forward came to the NAHL with the intention of securing a Division I scholarship before he left.
Mission accomplished, as Timar committed to the U.S. Air Force Academy in October.
“Prior to this year's (NAHL) Showcase (Tournament), I was e-mailing (the Air Force coaching staff) back and forth and they told me they would be there watching me,” explained Timar, who turned 20 on Nov. 17. “I talked to them on the final day of the Showcase and they told me they liked what they saw and that they thought I would fit perfectly into their program.
“(Falcons) Assistant coach Andy Berg came to Alpena to meet with my parents and me and gave us a few more details about the Academy itself. He said they had to make some decisions and would be in touch.”
That’s when the nail biting began.
“About two weeks later, I received a call from (Air Force head) coach (Frank) Serratore saying they really liked me as a player and as a person, and they were offering me a full scholarship,” said the 5-foot-10, 183-pound Timar. “I’d discussed the possibility of entering the Academy with my family and other loved ones prior to the offer, and determined that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to play D-I hockey and get a world-class education.”
His next four years and beyond now intact, Timar can get down to business with the IceDiggers.
“It's nice knowing that playing juniors was worth it and everything paid off in the end,” Timar said. “But I also realize that nothing is set in stone. I still need to continue being the same player and person that they know I am when I enter the Academy.”
Timar also credits playing in the NAHL as a catalyst to achieving his college hockey dream.
“Playing in the NAHL helped me develop as a player tremendously,” said Timar. “And playing in Alpena was perfect because it’s a good hockey program and, for me, just a couple of hours from my hometown.
“This is a great community that lives and breathes hockey more than anything else. Also, being able to experience life in Northern Michigan, compared to Metro Detroit, is also something I’ll never regret.
“Being a part of a hugely supportive community and meeting so many great families and other people involved with the IceDiggers’ organization is amazing.”
Alpena, mired in the lower portion of the North Division standings, has too much talent to stay there, according to Timar, who is optimistic about the rest of the season.
“We need to figure out how to pull out a win in close games,” Timar noted. “That's something we haven't been able to do yet, but I believe we’re really close to getting over that hump.
“Our division is going to be a tight race to the end and we know we’re not out of it yet. “Obviously, making the playoffs is our goal. If we do that, it's a whole new season. My goals are to just play hard and give our team a chance to win every night.”
“That may mean scoring a big goal, taking a hit, or blocking a shot. Whatever it takes for the team.”