YARMOUTH – There were a lot of New York Rangers fans in Yarmouth on Monday evening who, despite the team’s 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, had plenty to cheer about when hometown player Ryan Graves scored the Rangers’ first goal of the game.It was also Graves’ first NHL pre-season goal.
YOU CAN WATCH THE GOAL HERE on a highlight video linked from the New York Rangers' website.
Graves, a defenseman who grew up in Yarmouth, executed the goal after a rush and set-up from Rangers’ forward J.T. Miller.
“We talk about Graves and his excellent shot, he shows it here,” commented the play-by-play announcer.
That same day Graves had also made it past another round of cuts at the Rangers’ training camp. He was one of 12 defensemen still at camp, along with Mat Bodie, Adam Clendening, John Gilmour, Dan Girardi, Nick Holden, Kevin Klein, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei, Marc Staal and Chris Summers.
Graves, who played minor hockey in Yarmouth, major midget with the South Shore Mustangs and affiliated with the Yarmouth Mariners was playing in the QMJHL when he was drafted by the Rangers in June 2013. In the Q he played with the P.E.I. Rocket, Val-d'Or Foreurs and the Quebec Remparts.
Graves was a fourth-round pick (#110) for the Rangers in the June 2013 NHL entry draft. He signed his entry-level contract with the Rangers in March 2014.
Last year Graves also played in a pre-season NHL game with the Rangers against the Flyers. In his Oct. 3 outing this time around, aside from scoring a goal, he received 16:15 minutes of ice time, had two shots on goals and recorded two blocked shots.
His father Ron Graves called Ryan’s goal “exciting.”
“Ryan’s come a long way in the last six years. He’s made some big steps in his career goal of playing pro hockey. He’s playing exceptionally well,” says his dad.
Given the number of veteran defensemen with the Rangers, and other contract obligations the team has, Ron Graves says there wasn't much room this season on the Rangers’ roster for a rookie. He expected Ryan to be sent back to the Rangers' AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack, where he played last season. Ron Graves said with so many veteran defence this year, his son would have a better shot next year at maybe cracking the Rangers' roster.
He noted Ryan works exceptionally hard on and off the ice, and it shows in the shape he’s in and the game he plays.
“Ryan is very thankful for the support he gets from Yarmouth and the surrounding area. It really warms his heart to know there are so many people supporting him. I think he wants to show local kids that if you work hard you can have success,” his father says. “He’s a product from the community. I think that’s something that speaks well about Yarmouth.”
Says his mother Monica Brennan, “I am so proud of everything Ryan has accomplished and his dedication to his goals. I was watching the (Oct. 3) game with family in New Brunswick and it was very exciting. Ryan's passion for the game shines through every game.”
Last year Graves had gone deep into the Rangers training camp before being assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack. With the Wolf Pack he played 74 games in his rookie season and led the team’s defensemen in goals with nine. He also had 12 assists to round out his points at 21.
At the AHL’s All-Star event Graves won the hardest shot competition. His 103.4 mph shot in the AHL competition was harder than all but two shots in the NHL’s competition.
Graves was one of three defensemen recalled by the Rangers last season during the playoffs. He didn’t see the ice as the Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins, still, Graves had told this newspaper at that time, “I'm honored to be called up as an extra for the playoff run. Even if I don't get into a game it will be a great experience to be around the team at this time of year."