Janesville defenseman Williams makes NCAA D1 commitment
The Janesville Jets, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that defenseman Ryan Williams has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Miami University RedHawks of the NCHC.
“Earning my commitment means the world to me; I’ve been working for this moment since I was five years old,” said Williams. “It’s a tremendous feeling to know all my hard work and dedication is paying off. I can’t say thank you enough to my family for making this possible and allowing me to follow my dream.”
Since beginning play in organized hockey, Williams has known one team name: the Ohio Blue Jackets. Williams’ introduction to the well-known program in Ohio started a seven-year relationship that developed him into a talented defenseman today.
The Pleasantville, Ohio native played in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League from 13U to 18U, registering 99 games played and 50 points in the long tenure in the T1EHL. Williams saw time with the 18U AAA program the last two years, playing in 58 games in 2020-21 and another 59 this past season. The talented blue-liner had 77 points in his two seasons at the AAA level. He helped lead the AAA Blue Jackets to a Mid-Am district championship and berth in the National Tournament in 2020-21.
The Ohio Blue Jackets program is one that focuses extensively on player development, and it shows. After their inception in 2004, the Blue Jackets have produced seven NHLers (Connor Murphy, Sean Kuraly, Jack Roslovic, Kiefer Sherwood, Kole Sherwood, Justin Richards and Carson Meyer) along with multiple Columbus Blue Jackets draft picks. Additionally, the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets became the first amateur hockey organization to be directly affiliated with a National Hockey League franchise.
Enter the 2022-23 season. It’s Williams’ first as a Jet after he signed a tender with the team in December of 2021, and he’s already made his presence known both on the ice and on the scoresheet. In 13 games, he has a goal and four assists to his name, with his lone goal on the power play, and boasts a +6 rating. He currently ranks third on the team in hits (19), which comes as no surprise. Williams’ 6’3″ frame serves as a great asset to an already intimidating blue line, and his ability to see the entire ice surface exiting the zone and set up plays displays the things you love to see in a defenseman.
Seven other Jets have committed to the Miami program, the most recent being John Prokop in 2019. Located in Oxford, Ohio, Miami University’s campus is just a short two and a half hour drive from Williams’ hometown of Pleasantville, making his commitment to the RedHawks program that much sweeter. “Being an Ohio kid, it was always a big thing to go to a Miami game or play in their arena. When I spoke with coach Chris Bergeron and the rest of their staff and saw the campus, I knew it was for me. It’s a pretty cool feeling… a kid playing in Ohio for 14 years gets to play at Miami.”
Prior to playing in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), the RedHawks played in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) until the original CCHA disbanded in 2013. Hockey wasn’t added to the campus’ roster of varsity sports until 1978 where they played as an independent Division I team for two years. The program joined the CCHA in the 1980-81 season. Since that time, Miami holds two conference championships, one in the CCHA in 2011, and their lone NCHC title in 2015. They’ve seen the NCAA Tournament 12 times, made the Frozen Four twice (2009, 2010), and were the tournament runner-up in their only championship appearance behind Boston University in 2009.
The RedHawks have sent large number of alum to the NHL ranks, with a good portion of them going on to hoist the Stanley Cup. Names like All-Star Dan Boyle, Stanley Cup-clinching defenseman Alec Martinez, Blake Coleman, Andy Greene, Sean Kuraly, and Tommy Wingels are just a few of many who have graced an NHL roster after graduating from Miami’s program.
Williams’ commitment comes just over a month into the season. While he hasn’t entirely settled in to Janesville just yet, Williams is eager to continue forward with the team and put together a winning season. “The Jets have helped me tremendously,” said Williams. “The biggest of thank you’s to my teammates pushing me to be better and better everyday. Without them I don’t see any of this happening. Janesville has developed me as a player and person in only a couple of months. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Click here for an updated NAHL to NCAA commitment list