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Building on Success: No sophomore slump for Badgers defenceman John Ramage

Originally published in the 5th 2010-11 edition of BLAZE.

It most of life, it never hurts to be prepared. In hockey, preparation begins early, from the moment you first lace up the skates. It’s a process that continues through the minor and junior leagues, with the success of the early years often carried over to a player’s entire career.

Defenceman John Ramage knows about success. Calgary’s fourth round pick (103rd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft is the son of former Flame Rob Ramage, who played over 1,000 NHL games in 15 seasons and won Stanley Cups with the Flames and Montreal Canadiens.

The younger Ramage notes that his father gave him a lot of the tools to succeed in hockey. “I was really young when he was still playing,” he recalls. “But as I got older and started playing, he was able to teach me things. A lot of people weren’t able to get that type of coaching that I did when I was growing up, so I look at it as a great advantage.”

Now a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Ramage was drafted by the OHL’s Sault Saint Marie Greyhounds in 2007 but elected to stay in the United States to play hockey. In 2007-08, he skated in the North American Hockey League for his hometown St. Louis Bandits, who won the Robertson Cup as 2008 USA Hockey Tier II Junior A National Champions. Then, playing with the USA Hockey National Development Team, he earned a goal medal at the 2008 IIHF World Under-18 Championships.

Last season Ramage joined the NCAA’s Wisconsin Badgers and went to the finals of the Frozen Four in his freshman year, sandwiching in a gold medal performance at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships during his Christmas break. This year he was named the captain of the host American squad, leading the team to a bronze medal after their semi-final loss to Canada.

“I think it was tough for us, losing out to Canada. The guys were really devastated,” recalls Ramage. “A lot of them didn’t realize what we were still playing for. We won back-to-back medals for the first time in USA Hockey history. It was a big deal for us to win that bronze medal.”

After racking up a bevy of hardware in his past few seasons, Ramage isn’t about to rest on his laurels. With two seasons left at Wisconsin while he completes his Consumer Affairs degree, he’s looking to build upon his prior success.

While he admits it’s difficult to catch NHL games while balancing his hockey and scholastic commitments, Ramage catches Flames highlights when he can as a way of familiarizing himself with the team. He aims to spend the rest of his college career preparing for the jump to the next level.

“Winning a national championship is always your focus in college,” says Ramage. “[But it’s also about] becoming a better player, always developing, and then making the next step into pro hockey.”

Posted in Hockey.

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