In the spring of 1999 Jon Ryan was the big winner at the Moose Jaw AAA Warriors awards banquet.
© Times-Herald archives
Jon Ryan's player profile page from the 1998-99 Moose Jaw Midget AAA Warriors hockey program.
Tonight, the Seattle Seahawks punter will try to win one of the biggest honours in sports.
Fifteen years ago Ryan was an aspiring goalie, now he is trying to become the first Saskatchewan-born player to win a Super Bowl.
Ryan played his one season of midget AAA hockey in Moose Jaw as the AAA Warriors struggled to a 14-29-1 record. While he was tending goal in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, he was also playing high school football in Regina.
Despite pulling double duty, Ryan was named the AAA Warriors' Most Valuable Player and also claimed the Jaret MacDiarmid Memorial Award that goes to the player who displayed the most character and determination during the season.
Ryan split time in goal with Scott Munroe who would go on to play seven seasons in the American Hockey League and one season with Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik of the KHL. Munroe currently plays in Sweden with Vaxjo HC. The 98-99 AAA Warriors also featured David Bararuk and Evan Schwabe who both ended up playing in the minors and in Europe.
While the AAA Warriors failed to make the playoffs that season, Ryan's hometown the Regina Pat Canadians won the Air Canada Cup — the midget AAA national championship, now known as the Telus Cup. Former Moose Jaw Warriors prospect Paul Valaitis was the named tournament's top goaltender as he helped lead Regina to the title.
In the fall of 1999, Ryan went to training camp with the Brandon Wheat Kings. When he was released, the 17-year-old decided to focus on football and led his high school team, the Sheldon-Williams Spartans, to their first Regina city title in 31 years and the SHSAA 4A provincial title.
Ryan said this week that he believed that he tried out for three different Western Hockey League teams, in three different seasons, before finally deciding to stick with football.
After high school Ryan moved on to the University of Regina. He was a punter, place kicker and wide receiver for the Rams and played in the Vanier Cup in 2000. In 2003 he led the Rams with 645 receiving yards. He was also a sprinter on the U of R track team.
He played two seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League. In his final season, he set the CFL record for average yards per punt (50.6 yards) before signing with the NFL's Green Bay Packers in 2006. He spent two seasons with the Packers before joining the Seahawks.