Washington Capitals’ rough and rowdy prospect Ryan Hofer loves to get in your face

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      Ryan Hofer plays a rough and tough throwback style of hockey.

      He calls it “a little bit of meat and potatoes.” And that perfectly describes his work ethic and why the Washington Capitals liked him enough to ink the 2022 sixth-rounder back in March.

      Now, he’s on the national stage, playing with the hosts from Kamloops at the 2023 Memorial Cup. But it’s familiar territory for the Hofer family: the Winnipeg, Manitoba product is the younger brother of St. Louis Blues goaltender Joel Hofer, who was part of Swift Current during the team’s 2018 tournament run. Acadie-Bathurst won that year, so the younger Hofer will look to have a better result than his big bro.

      One thing that stands out immediately with Hofer is his work ethic. He’s always one of the hardest-working bodies on the ice when you watch him during practice or in a game. Blazers’ play-by-play commentator Jon Keen described Hofer as “Super Mario, where he eats the star and then for 25 seconds goes crazy out there.”

      However, his blue-collar, never quit attitude stems from his father, who owns a construction company and has worked tirelessly to provide for the family. Ryan equates much of his success to his dad, who put him to work with a hammer at a young age and showed him what working hard can get you.

      When asked about how the last few months have been since arriving in Kamloops in a blockbuster trade, now getting the chance to play in the Memorial Cup, Hofer grinned, saying, “I’m super thankful; that trade really helped punch the ticket with Kamloops being the host. I’m just really thankful to be here and going to soak it all in and just have lots of fun.”

      Hofer registered 17 goals and 32 points in 30 games since being acquired by the Blazers in a blockbuster WHL trade, along with blueline prodigy Olen Zellweger from the Everett Silvertips. Between the two clubs, he notched a team leading 40 goals.

      When asked what it was like having Zellweger as part of that deal, Hofer said, “You know, Zellweger was a big addition to that trade, too. It was nice to have a familiar face come along as well, and when I arrived here, everyone was very welcoming.”

      It didn’t take long for Hofer to find his groove in Kamloops and start throwing his weight around and making himself a pest in front of the net. He models his game after Winnipeg Jets forward Adam Lowry, Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn and Chicago Blackhawks forward Reese Johnson.

      What do all of those players have in common? They’ve all played in the WHL, and each was a man amongst boys during their respective years. Hofer is not afraid to get in the faces of any opposing player. At 6-foot-3 and nearly 200 pounds, he is a hard body to move off the puck, using his strength to drive to the net and make life hell for the opposition. Throughout the Blazers’ postseason run that saw it end during the Western Conference finals, Hofer tallied 15 points in 14 games. 

      The Blazers lost their opening game of the Memorial Cup 8-3 to the Quebec Remparts Friday night. Hofer picked up his first Memorial Cup point and registered an assist for New York Islanders prospect Daylan Kuefler’s first tournament goal. In Kamloops’s 10-2 trouncing over the Peterborough Petes on Sunday, Hofer notched his first goal and picked up an assist.

      Hofer will use his size and physicality to shut down the opposition throughout the tournament. The Blazers will play the Thunderbirds on Wednesday in round-robin action, a matchup familiar to them. Hofer will play a pivotal role as the Blazers look to hoist the Memorial Cup championship for the first time since 1995 – and then he’ll make the jump to pro next year.

      You have a good one, Caps fans.

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