When you type ‘Ryan Dingle’ into Google, not a great deal comes up. Elite Prospects, his Wikipedia entry and a couple of articles from the past summer about his re-signing with the Fife Flyers and earning the Captain’s C. Pretty much the usual suspects really and nothing that outwardly screamed ‘read me’. There doesn’t really seem to be much in the way of media surrounding the Steamboat Springs, USA native – which considering his role did throw me for a minute.
I was asked by #OnFire to find out a bit more about the 32 year old, it honestly wasn’t difficult to know where to start, it appeared no one had really asked him anything before. So I decide to take the tact of talking about being on the road and the importance of Fife’s form on the road to the playoffs since he is our away team feature for the month, what better to talk about than being on the road and the importance of winning those all important road games.
Do you think there is anything as a team that you need to change heading into the playoffs? I begin, might as well go right for the jugular right? “Well… as a team this season our biggest downfall has been consistency.” He says. “We beat teams at the top and lose to ones at the bottom. We need to minimise our highs and lows to make ourselves more successful. No team can afford a night off or their season is over.”
As Captain, how does Dingle cope with the pressure that can be there if the team doesn’t perform to it’s potential? Does he take it harder? What does he do to motivate the rest of the team to play at their best?
“I like to lead by example rather than vocally.” He explains. “If the game isn’t going the way we would like it to be, I’ll try to go out and have a strong shift or two to get the boys back on track.” Seems like sound advice, leading by example is far better in most cases than standing their and barking orders. “It doesn’t always work though, but that’s the beauty of hockey.”
Moving towards the playoffs and with Fife currently sitting in sixth place, I asked if he was looking forward to the weekend in Nottingham. “They playoff weekend is an amazing experience. I’ve never seen anything like it and would love to get back there for a second year. Any team can beat any other, on any night, so for me it’s really important that we are firing on all cylinders come playoff time.”
So coming to the Skydome, are there any players you’re worried about? Doing this job I’ve discovered that goalies don’t really worry about other goalies, but they do worry about players. Turns out players worry about goalies more than other players. “As this season has shown, every team can beat another, no nights off. There are a handful of goalies who can steal a game and Brian Stewart is one of them.”
“Pretty much every road trip consists of a combination of watching movies, reading, napping. Some guys like to play cards, it all depends on the length of the road trip. It’s never easy sitting on a bus all day before a game but every team has to do it at some point.” He explains the process of travelling all the way down the country and how it effects the way the team prepare. “Every player has their pre-game routine dialed in to help them perform best at home and on the road. The final prep for the game happens at the rink before the game.”
“It’s always good to have road support but we wouldn’t be in the position we are in as players if we depended 100% on that.” The Skydome on a good night can be deafening, the Blue Army can make a hell of a racket.
How does that affect the away team? Especially when their own fans have as far to travel as Fife’s do. “We have to create our own motivation too otherwise the home team would always win and that really isn’t the case, we both know that.” He replies. Fair point and as they say in the NFL, Any Given Sunday…
This article was first published in the March edition of the Coventry Blaze’s match night program OnFire and has been reproduced here with permission from the editor Stu Coles now the program is out of print.