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NEWPORTâ€“With North Country's graduation having come and gone, many students will head off to college or to work when the next school year rolls around.
However, Ryan Paul will be taking a different path, much like his teammate Ross DeLaBruere, he will be heading off to play junior hockey.
Paul was signed this spring by the Boston Junior Bruins of the USPHL.
"It feels great," said Paul on the signing. "People have been telling me for years that I could, and to just be able to play at the next level and live the dream is amazing."
Mike Anderson is the man at the helm of the Bruins' Elite team, which is where Paul will start out the season.
Anderson first saw Ryan play in March when Paul, along with DeLaBruere skated with his team at a practice.
On what drew Anderson to sign Ryan, Mike replied, "Heâ€™s a good size forward who can shoot the puck and has a good nose for the net. Heâ€™s got a very good upside."
Paul and Anderson had stayed in steady contact after that initial meeting.
After playing in the America Showcase put on by USA Hockey and the PIHL in Pittsburgh, Anderson sent Paul a contract, as Ryan explained.
"He sent me a contract and I went on vacation after I got it, so I had a week to think about it was while in Mexico where I came to the decision that I wanted to play for the Junior Bruins."
Ryan's parents are elated with their son's success.
"We could not be prouder of him," said Kelly Paul, Ryan's mother. "His hard work, determination and leadership have given him this wonderful opportunity. His passion and love of hockey will take him wherever he wants to go."
Paul will start the year on the organization's Elite sqyad, but could make the jump to the Premier team if he finds a way to score goals and be an impact player at that initial level.
"I think he fits in well," Anderson noted. "Heâ€™s in a good place to develop and hopefully progress through our junior program."
The hardest part about the transition will be adjusting to the speed of the game, which Anderson said was quite faster and big difference from the high school game.
Anderson also noted that speed, along with the physicality, will be the two biggest challenges for Ryan to work on when he gets to camp on September 1st.
Ryan already has a plan to work on the speed things, saying he is hoping to drop about fifteen pounds while doing interval training and exercises designed to increase foot speed.
The coach spoke about his organization's past and future, saying, "We placed 11 players in college off last yearâ€™s Elite team and are looking forward to having another successful season college placement-wise. I think our team has the ability to win a championship this season."
Ryan will get a better taste of what it is like to skate with the team when he plays with them in a tournament this July.
Once the season begins, he will be billeting with a host family in the Marlboro, MA area, where his home ice surface is located.
To keep up with Ryan next season, you can go to www.pointstreak.com, the team's website www.bostonjuniorbruins.com or on Twitter at @juniorbruins.
Editor's note: If he is allowed to hit with his full capability, he will finally be able to complete his game.