Catching Up With Ryan Orgel

by Manny Brizuela

Playing college hockey is an experience that shoulders the possibility of becoming a professional. The WSHL has been a bountiful stepping-stone for many players longing that next step into collegiate hockey.

Ryan Orgel wants to play in the NHL and he has certainly placed himself on a platform that screams possibility. Ryan passed through the WSHL pipeline in 2012-13 when he played for the Long Beach Bombers under Coach Chris White.

It was an early start for the ‘97 born but he remained confidant and gained reassurance from his older brother, Kyle, who also played for the Bombers. Ryan originally skated with Long Beach during practice—while he played for his 16U team, before eventually cracking the roster and contributing with six points from the back-end.

(Mark Mauno Photo of Ryan Orgel 2013)

“I got to play with some older guys at the time,” Ryan said. “It was a great experience getting my feet into junior hockey at a young age.” 

Still being so young after the Bombers, Ryan went back for another year of 16U playing for the California Titans and then went on to register 13 assists with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings U18. His most offensively productive year was with the Wichita Falls Wildcats of the NAHL with 10 goals and 21 assists.

His stint in the WSHL was an introduction to a long junior hockey career that eventually landed him on the blue line for the University of Denver Pioneers (NCAA D-I).

“It’s [WSHL] a great developmental league,” Ryan said. “It gave me the opportunity to really work on all aspects of my game. There’s a lot of under-the-radar talent in the league that really pushed me to the next level. Playing for the Long Beach Bombers and them being my first team on a long list of junior hockey teams is definitely special.”

(Shannon Valerio/University of Denver Photo of Ryan Orgel) 

The Pioneers won the NCAA Frozen Four national title in 2017 and are a part of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The NCHC has produced the last three national champions and Ryan is currently on a Denver squad that ranks No. 9 on the national ranking poll.

The 5-11, 185-pound native of Los Angeles is after a construction management degree at the University of Denver but his dream to play in the NHL never skips a beat. Although Ryan started playing hockey for the first time as a center, he adopted the defenseman role pretty gracefully—valuable in an NCHC conference full of scorers.

“The style of play is a big step up,” Ryan said. “I would say the overall speed and the smartness of all the players on the ice is definitely noticeable. I asked a lot of questions and picked up what I could from a lot of the guys and that really helped my transition.”

Ryan played in five games last season for the Pioneers and helped secure a win this past weekend versus University of Alberta. He has already received distinction named to the NCHC Academic All-Conference team and an NCHC Distinguished Scholar Athlete.

He travels to Colorado Springs on Friday to face off against Air Force before hosting Alabama-Huntsville for homecoming the following night.

Dedication becomes increasingly important as the level of competition rises. Ryan Orgel matured into a D-I blueliner with a work ethic and mindset that stems back to his days as the youngster on a junior hockey team—earning his start in the WSHL.