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  • Andrew Nowel

Former Canisius captain finishes third NHL training camp

By Andrew Nowel, Contributor

Ryan Schmelzer graduated from Canisius College in 2018 after growing up in Buffalo. Five years later, Schmelzer is the captain of the Utica Devils and is preparing for the start of his NHL career, as he is only months away from beginning the dream that so many young hockey players have growing up.

Schmelzer began his professional career with the Adirondack Thunder after playing four years for the Canisius Golden Griffins ice hockey program. This is the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) team for the New Jersey Devils. He was there for 25 games, going to the ECHL playoffs with the Thunder before losing in the conference finals.

The next season, Schmelzer signed with the Devils’ AHL team, which was based in Binghamton at the time of Schmelzer’s signing. The team moved to Utica in the 2021-22 AHL season and continues to play games in Utica. From the beginning of being in Utica, Schmelzer has worn the captain patch on his jersey, serving as a leader for the team.

Schmelzer learned his value when he was the captain of the Golden Griffins in 2018. “Growing into a leader and becoming a captain there prepped me for where I am now,” said Schmelzer. “I owe Canisius a lot. It’s a place that’s special to me, and it’s a place that’s in my backyard, a place where I grew up in.”

Schmelzer is a native of Buffalo, so being able to attend Canisius was very special for him. He recalled growing up watching the Canisius ice hockey team, and he said it was a school that he always wanted to attend. He also loves to be able to be close to home, as playing for Utica allows Schmelzer to be only about two-and-a-half hours away from the 716.

“My wife, kids and I have a home in Buffalo, so we still come back, and we spend the summer in Buffalo,” he said. “It’s also really nice to have my parents come to a lot of my games since we play a lot of games in Rochester and Syracuse. I like the snow — so being in this environment it feels like hockey weather — and of course being able to catch the occasional Bills game.”

After finishing up his third NHL training camp, Schmelzer prepares for the AHL season where he once again proudly wears his captain’s patch, leading the Utica Devils to what he anticipates will be a successful season. As he nears that day of being called up to the big leagues, Schmelzer continues to be a leader that graduated from a university that he proclaims made him just that.

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