Gretzky paved way for BCHL grad Ramsey

Note: Vancouver Canucks prospect Travis Ramsey earned a scholarship to the University of Maine while playing for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks during the 2003/04 BC Hockey League season.

Late-blooming Travis Ramsey is a byproduct of Wayne Gretzky's remarkable influence on hockey in California after he was traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles in 1988.

“Gretzky definitely opened up doors down there and my generation of kids started to step out,” the Lakewood, Calif. native said Sunday at Vancouver Canucks prospects camp. “Gretzky paved the way.”

At 25, Ramsey is the oldest camp competitor. But the former University of Maine captain and scholastic star impressed the Manitoba Moose last spring during a seven-game amateur tryout and has a one-year AHL contract this season.

Not bad for a guy who didn't start playing organized hockey until he was 14.

“They built a rink down my street and I asked my parents if I could play and they said yes,” recalled Ramsey. “I got in later than most guys.”

At 17, Ramsey was playing junior hockey in Helena, Mont. He spent the 2003-04 BCHL season with Salmon Arm before playing four years at Maine. Still, with an AHL deal in hand, what is the defensive defenceman doing at the prospects camp?

“This is just showing myself to another level and getting on their [Canucks'] radar a bit,” said the 6-foot-4, 211-pound blueliner, who had 29 points in 132 career regular-season games at Maine.

“You've got to take the opportunity when it comes and I'm really excited. I spent two months with the Moose and it gave me some good experience.

“It [AHL] is a totally different game than college where you've got a lot of quick guys kind of running around playing dump-and-chase hockey. It's definitely more poised in the pro ranks and it took some getting used to.

“In college, I could give guys a little bit of room and I couldn't do that [in the AHL]. They're a lot more dangerous.”

Moose coach Scott Arniel said Ramsey deserves a longer look from the Moose because of his willingness to work to adjust his game to the pro level.

“Nothing flashy, but every night he comes and plays the same game,” said Arniel. “It was a big step for him coming in.”