July 4, 2013
North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol picked up a big fish when his program landed Ryan Gropp of the Penticton Vees.
Gropp, a big left winger, plays for the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). He scored 12 goals and added 19 assists in 50 games this past season, excellent numbers for a 16 year old playing on a very talented team.
Gropp is one of just three players who doesn’t play in the CHL to be invited to Hockey Canada’s U18 Ivan Hlinka tryout camp.
Gropp was drafted 6th in 2011 WHL Bantam Draft out of the Kamloops Jardine Blazers, by the Seattle Thunderbirds. Longtime Kamloops minor hockey buddy and bantam team captain Joe Hicketts was also drafted that year, by Victoria, 12th over all. Hicketts will also be at the U18 camp.
Both players moved to the Okanagan Hockey Academy for their first year midget.
Hicketts quickly committed to the WHL,signing in September 2011, while Gropp moved to the BCHL and kept his NCAA eligibility intact.
Gropp’s father Brent, spent 4 years at Colorado College in the NCAA, playing varsity hockey in each of those years. In total, he appeared in 147 games, scoring 59 goals, 96 assists, 155 points, with 302 penalty minutes. He also played Jr. A in Penticton prior to College.
Ryan did not attend Seattle’s training camp as a 16 year old, leading to speculation he had decided on going the US college route, and was deciding between Colorado or Denver U.
His late birthday (Sept. 16) means an extra year before his NHL draft. Question remains whether he’ll stay in Grand Rapids or head to Seattle as a 19 year old. Especially with number one draft pick, Matthew Barzal in the line up.
If he stays in NCAA, the NHL has until he graduates from his senior year to sign him,