The power forward, a native of Midlothian, Va., spent two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN — After limited playing time in two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, power forward Ryan Jasinsky has decided to give the ice in the United States Hockey League a whirl.
But first, the native of Midlothian, Va., is getting ready for a dream week with the Washington Capitals rookie camp. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Jasinsky has an invitation to spend next week with other hopeful future Capitals.
“I’m set to play rookie camp all the way through Sept. 11,” said Jasinsky, who came to the Youngstown Phantoms expansion team as a free agent. “We’ll have a game against the Flyers rookies. The main camp starts up the next day and If I do well I might get invited to that main camp.”
If things don’t work out, Jasinsky, 19, will rejoin the Phantoms on Sept. 14 as they prepare for the USHL Fall Classic road trip to Sioux City, Iowa, for games from Sept. 24-26.
“There’s always a chance that something could happen,” Jasinsky said of his camp opportunity. “I’m going to go in there and work as hard as I can and do everything in my power to show them I have what it takes to play there next year.
“You’ve always got to be a little positive on your side, I believe.”
The Capitals to Jasinsky are what the Pittsburgh Penguins mean to Mahoning Valley youth hockey players.
“All my friends are big Capitals fans,” Jasinsky said. “When I was younger, I lived in Hampton Roads [Va.] for a while and watched [their American Hockey League team] that became an ECHL team.
“And the Caps and Buffalo would have preseason games at that rink, and I would go and watch.”
Jasinsky admits not many Virginians try to make go at hockey for a career.
Asked to compare interest in hockey between Ohio and his hometown, Jasinski said the Mahoning Valley “has a little more.
“In Virginia, it’s like a select group of people [where] everybody knows everybody. Here in Ohio, if you tell them you play for the Phantoms, they already know who that is.
“If you said you played for some team in Richmond, I’m sure [those citizens] would be like ‘we really don’t know who that is.’ ”
Jasinsky has been playing sports almost since he could walk, including baseball and football. Today, he also is a mixed martial arts athlete.
“I think I played every sport imaginable and one day my Grandma saw a hockey score on TV. She said, ‘We should get you playing hockey.’ I was like 6. I started skating and was excellent ... so I just kind of stuck with it.”
In high school, Jasinsky said he had to choose between baseball and hockey.
“After my second year in high school, I moved away from home to start trying to make hockey my profession,” Jasinsky said.
At 16, he played for a Junior A independent in Delaware. The following summer, he received an invitation to relocate due north. “We had a tournament/showcase in Montreal and there were a few major junior scouts there,” Jasinsky said. “Victoriaville came up to me after the first game and showed a lot of interest.”
He was given an invitation to attend training camp of the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL.
Jasinsky then played two seasons with the Tigres, who wanted him more as an enforcer than a goal-scoring threat.
Jasinsky believes there is more to his game than fisticuffs. When he learned about Youngstown getting an expansion team for the USHL, he contacted coach Bob Mainhardt and received an invitation to June’s training camp.
“They want to see if I can also put the puck in the net, to see if I can be that rare all-around player who can fight, hit and score,” Jasinsky said. “This is a great opportunity for me to play, so I made the switch.”
Mainhardt said, “Ryan’s a big, strong, committed guy who’s not afraid to get his nose dirty and do what it takes.
“But we see something much more than that,” Mainhardt said. “We see someone who can score goals, be an offensive threat and play a role in all areas of the game.”
A workout fanatic, Jasinsky said he has to learn to know when to say when.
“It definitely helps [but] you kind of have to pick and choose your days, of course. You don’t want to overwork during the season and have an injury, I think that’s almost my biggest problem,” Jasinsky said. “I want to [work out] every day and do three-a-days.
“Last year, my coaching staff and trainer were getting on me because I was actually overtraining. I have had to learn where I can get it in but it’s not hurting me.”
Playing in a French-speaking province gave Jasinsky a bonus education.
“On the team, everybody could speak English to an extent,” Jasinsky said of the Tigres. “The first year, our head coach would speak in French only. He wasn’t [fluent] with English.
“We had some meetings which were in French and we’d kind of feel left out so we kind of had to learn the language,” Jasinsky said. “The second year, the coach spoke English so it definitely made it easier for the English-speaking guys. We definitely felt like we were more included.”
Jasinsky describes his French comprehension as being “pretty good, surprisingly. I didn’t take any classes, just picked it up from hearing it, learning and getting taught by my billet mother. I can’t speak it as well, but if someone is speaking French, I can understand what they are saying.
“It’s like a slang version of French — it’s definitely different. Say if you were to speak their version of French and went over to France, they wouldn’t understand you as much.”