Ryan Dingle’s pro hockey career is over, but he isn’t hanging up his skates | SteamboatToday.com

Ryan Dingle’s pro hockey career is over, but he isn’t hanging up his skates

Ryan Dingle waves to the fans of Coventry Blaze during his final home game in April.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Hockey player Ryan Dingle may have played his last game as a professional with the Coventry Blaze, but on Monday, the former center was back on the ice getting ready for his camps and a new role with the Steamboat Stampede Youth Hockey Association.

"I may have retired from my playing career, but I absolutely did not retire from the sport of hockey," Dingle said. "I still love the sport, and I love being out there."

Dingle will greet a troop of new players next week for the first of his seven Elite Hockey Camps, which he has hosted in Steamboat Springs for the past eight summers. He was also recently named director of player development for the Steamboat Stampede Youth Hockey Association. In this newly established role, Dingle will work with a wide range of players from Mites through Bantams to help players reach their goals in the sport that Dingle has played since he was a child.

"Hockey and kids — those are two of my passions, and I am really excited to be working with these kids full time," Dingle said.

"We are excited to add Ryan to our hockey family while providing our players professional, dedicated skill development," Brain Ripley, the youth hockey association's director, wrote in a letter to parents. "We feel this is an unique and exceptional opportunity that continues to improve our outstanding program. We love Ryan’s enthusiasm, heart for the community, desire to impact kids, belief in our core values and passion for the game. We are extremely fortunate."

Dingle played hockey professionally for seven different teams over 11 years in four different leagues. He played in the American Hockey League, the East Coast Hockey League in the United States, the Serie A Hockey League in Italy and, most recently, the Elite Ice Hockey League of Great Britain where he played three seasons in Scotland and England.

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He said his favorite team may have been with Cortina, where he spent four seasons.

"I had a rejuvenation for the love of the game when I went to Italy,” Dingle said. “I think it had a lot to do with the culture. You can’t hate the culture, the lifestyle and the food in Italy. That was a spectacular time in my life. I made great connections and found friends that I will have for life.”

Despite scoring 25 goals in 50 appearances for the Coventry Blaze, Dingle felt the time was right for a change.

"There was a realization that I was the oldest one on my team," Dingle said. "I would look around on the bus and see a bunch of 20-year-old guys … I'm sitting at 34, and with two young kids, I was just at a different place in my life."

So in December, he and his wife, Sophie, decided it was time to settle down and pursue a more "normal" life back in Steamboat with their sons Everett, 2, and Oliver, 1.

"I've always considered this home,” Dingle said about Steamboat. “We have been coming back every summer for years, and we were ready to settle in and raise a family, and Steamboat was the place to be."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.