Men’s hockey: Salkeld inks pro contract

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Men’s hockey: Salkeld inks pro contract

Senior forward Ryan Salkeld finished his four-year Buffalo State career with 73 points, 10th all-time in program history

Senior forward Ryan Salkeld finished his four-year Buffalo State career with 73 points, 10th all-time in program history

Dave DeLuca/The Record

Senior forward Ryan Salkeld finished his four-year Buffalo State career with 73 points, 10th all-time in program history

Dave DeLuca/The Record

Dave DeLuca/The Record

Senior forward Ryan Salkeld finished his four-year Buffalo State career with 73 points, 10th all-time in program history

Tony Callens, Associate Sports Editor

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Ryan Salkeld is coming home. The Buffalo State senior forward signed a standard player’s contract with the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL this past Friday.

Salkheld, 24, is a native of Portsmouth, Va., and grew up only a few miles away from the Norfolk Scope, the arena the Admirals call home.

“It’s all pretty surreal,” he said. “I grew up watching this team pretty much my whole life. The opportunity to play for them… I’m at a loss for words.”

Salkeld tallied 27 points this season and was second in scoring for the Bengals. He helped the team achieve the most wins in program history (16) and the No. 2 seed in the SUNYAC.

The winger appeared in 92 games over his four-year career, scoring 34 goals and registering 39 assists. Those 73 career points rank 10th all-time in program history.

While he led Buffalo State in scoring during the 2014-15 season, his head coach Steve Murphy believes his senior season was his best.

“This season, Ryan became more of a complete player. He made plays in the offensive end last year, but at times he got away with some things defensively,” Murphy said. “This year, I held him more accountable in our zone just to make him more of a two-way player. He was one of our older guys and he was a leader. It was a huge key not only to our success, but allowed him to get called up to the professional level right away.”

Ryan Cavanagh, a local rink manager in Virginia, helped Salkeld get this opportunity, acting as his unofficial agent.

“I have a really close relationship with him from my days growing up, and he has a relationship with the head coach of the Admirals (Eric Veilleux),” Salkeld said.

Cavanagh updated Veilleux of Salkeld’s progress throughout the year, and when the season ended, the franchise decided to offer him a contract.

“My time in college has prepared me for this a lot, just in balancing school, hockey and adjusting to different coaches,” Salkeld said. “I’ve learned some life lessons along the way, not just as a hockey player, but as a person.”

Salkeld is widely regarded as a great friend and person in addition to being a phenomenal hockey player. The respect of his teammates is apparent. Fellow senior Nick Schiro, a defenseman, has been with him every step of the way.

The bond they share was evident following their defeat in the SUNYAC playoff semifinals at the hands of Geneseo, the last collegiate game of their careers. The two shared a teary-eyed embrace in the hallway leading to the team locker room.

“You can’t ask for a better friend,” Schiro said. “He’s a perfect follower to put it best. He’s always on board to do something new.”

Salkeld will have to adjust to a new setting and a new locker room. That should be no problem for him, according to Schiro.

“As a teammate and a locker-room guy, he’s always willing to do whatever is better for the team,” he said. “Whether it’s doing something new or adjusting to a system, he’s always willing to take that next step to get better.”

Salkeld shows a great pair of hands and is dynamic on the offensive end of the ice. His skill set should translate well to the ECHL.

“He’s really silky,” Schiro said. “He gets defensemen mad; he’s real hard to control down low. Even for how big he is, he’s very deceptive.”

So far, the transition has gone well for Salkeld. In his first game on Sunday, the newest Admiral tallied an assist in a 3-2 loss against the Reading Royals.

“It’s been a bit different, but I’m doing the same things I’ve done for the last four years. The team and coaching staff have made it pretty easy thus far,” Salkeld said.

Hard work has gotten him this far and has allowed him to be one of the most consistent players in the past few season at Buffalo State and in the SUNYAC conference. He’ll have to continue to grow as a player as he begins the next chapter in his hockey career.

“The sky’s the limit for him,” Murphy said. “As long as he continues to work, he’ll stick in the ECHL and hopefully have a long professional career moving forward.”

email: tcallens.record@outlook.com

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