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Ryan Massa returns to UNO Hockey

Massa had announced he would sit the season and return for 2013/14

Sports Editor

Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

Massa

Nate Tenopir/The Gateway

Ryan Massa returned to UNO hockey Wednesday, just 48 hours after the Mavs lost goalie Anthony Stolarz to Major Junior Hockey.

Two days after freshman goaltender, and second round NHL draft pick, Anthony Stolarz announced he would be leaving UNO for the Ontario Hockey League, the Mavs welcomed back a dependable old friend.  Ryan Massa, who led UNO with seven wins as a goalie last season, was at practice Wednesday afternoon and is again part of the team going forward.

“The past few days have been an absolute blur,” Massa said.  “My head is still spinning around all this.”

Massa participated fully in practice, but said afterwards that he’s unsure if or when he’ll see time in goal.

“I’m not sure yet.  It kind of remains to be seen,” Massa said about whether or not he’ll play this year.  “I’m just gonna take it day by day and see how it goes.”

Massa had announced in July that he would be taking a year off for personal reasons and would return for the 2013-14 season.  But after Stolarz’s departure, Head Coach Dean Blais came calling.

“It happened just on Monday.  I was playing ping pong with some of the guys on the Lancers, and he (Blais) opened the door to the players’ lounge and kind of pulled me out and said he’s got something to talk to me about,” Massa said.  “Before I knew it I was enrolled in classes, in night classes last night, and [it’s] just been a whirlwind two days to make sure I got all the paperwork in and had a physical and had all that stuff taken care of.”

When Massa made his decision six months ago he might have said goodbye to UNO for a while, but he never said goodbye to hockey.  Since he’s been away, Massa has been training daily with the Omaha Lancers to stay in shape.

He got a job with a J. Crew retailer, trained daily and kept his focus on the future.  Initially after Massa announced his decision, he went home to Littleton, Colo. and trained there.

Massa stayed in shape by skating with some pros then came back to Omaha and began training with Head Coach Mike Aikens and the Lancers.

Once the fall season started Massa worked out with the Lancers every day and skated sometimes twice a day.  But regardless of his situation, the plan was always to be back with the Mavs.

“One hundred percent,” Massa said about the chances he would be back with UNO.  “There was no chance, no remote possibility of me going anywhere else or thinking of going anywhere else.  I was staying here 100 percent.”

In terms of the personal reasons Massa left the team for, he’s still not staying.  He calls the decision to take a year off a very unique set of circumstances.

But when Blais came to gauge Massa’s interest in returning early, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“To be back with the guys, playing with some of the best players in the WCHA, which was what ultimately…you play with the best and you get better,” Massa said.  “I was pretty excited to get back into class, and be around these guys again.”

Many of those guys feel exactly the same.  Regardless of who left the team or the circumstances that put Massa back on the roster, Brock Montpetit is glad to have Massa around again.

“Massa’s a good guy in the locker room that we can have around,” Montpetit said.  “Hopefully we can get him on the ice.  I’m not sure of that whole situation, but I think it’s a good thing to have.  Everybody was kind of bummed out about Stoli (Stolarz) leaving, [but] bringing in a guy that we know and we can count on, it’s a good thing to get us back up.”

Two days ago Massa wasn’t on the team.  Forty eight hours later he is, but Massa is unsure when he’ll see any time in net.  His role and his academic future may remain uncertain.

But there are some things Massa is sure of.

“[I’m] just ready to move on,” Massa said.  [I’m] ready to be here and make it to Pittsburgh (the site of the Frozen Four) with this team.”

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