Widmar: “In this league you can’t take anyone lightly”
Last week, we caught up with Ryan Widmar to discuss hockey, his teammates and how he was finding life in Oxford.
Q: How are you finding life in Oxford and the UK? Is it what you expected?
RW: Oxford is a lot of what I expected, a vibrant university town with a well preserved city centre. What I didn’t expect however was the great support for our hockey club. We have to have some of the best attendance in the league. That’s honestly been the best surprise
Q: What did you think about the game on Sunday (last week against MK Thunder)?
RW: In this league you can’t take anyone lightly so I’m glad we were able to have a good start and get up 2-0 early. It’s that strong start that got the fans into it and paved the way for a game we mostly dominated. Overall, a really solid effort from everyone top to bottom.
Q: How did it feel to get your first Stars hat-trick?
RW: It felt great ! There’s no better feeling than scoring goals in a packed arena. The added confidence you get from a performance like that is something I hope to carry with me for the rest of the season.
Q: When did you first hear about the Stars and that they were interested in signing you?
RW: I told my agent that playing in the UK this year was my first choice and one of the first clubs he suggested was Oxford. With the size and vibrancy of the city combined with Coach Simon’s international experience in Sweden (where I’ve played in the past). It really was a no brainer!
Q: How does the level of hockey here compare with other leagues you’ve played in?
RW: This is the 7th country I’ve played in and every single one seems to have a different style. I will say it’s noticeably more psychical and a little more “chippy” (as we say in hockey). I joke with our PT about all the time about how I’ve been hit in the face or cut by a high stick more times this year than I have in all my seasons in Europe combined. I really do like the more physical nature of the game over here though!
Q: What are your team mates like?
RW: They’re all great guys and we really get on very well. They’re constantly winding each other up but at the same time they’ll always have your back out on the ice and I think that great team culture has contributed to our successes on the ice.
Q: Who has impressed you out of your team mates?
RW: That’s a tough one to answer because all of the guys have stepped up in different ways at one point or another this year. I will say that you can’t help but notice Dax Hedges’ complete style of play. He works hard right to the final buzzer, blocks shots, kills penalties, wins face-offs; and he’s willing to fight anyone in this league if it means standing up for one of his teammates. I’m very glad we have him on our side!
Q: Do you have an interesting fact about you?
RW: My mother and I were on the cover of a very large newspaper in Chicago. It was during the United Airlines flight attendants strike of the early 90s and the photo was my mom pushing me in a stroller while holding a strike sign. That’s my claim to fame I guess…
Q: Which hockey team did you grow up supporting?
RW: Chicago Blackhawks – all day!
Q: What do you do when you’re not playing hockey?
RW: As the guys will tell you, I’m a hockey nerd. So when I’m not playing I’m probably watching hockey clips or. games of some sort. Hope to do a bit more travelling as the year goes on.