Cooking Out With Ryan Reaves
December 20, 2010
Ryan Reaves loves to cook. “I love cookin’... I love good food. I’ll spend hours in the kitchen... I love barbecuing. If I can barbecue anything I’ll pick up a steak and vegetables, I’ll chop ‘em up and put some spice on then I’ll throw it all on the barbecue.”
Although, to the fans, he may be more commonly associated with fighting and being the tough guy of the Peoria Rivermen, Reaves considers himself “a pretty fun lovin’ guy.” In fact, the 6-foot-2-inch 220-pound right winger, who achieved the first multi-goal game of his professional career against Grand Rapids on Dec. 11, said he has always been that way, but “the AHL turned me into a monster.”
“I loved running around, I loved playing every sport I could and... I’ve never really been an aggressive bully or anything like that,” said the 23-year-old about his time growing up in Winnipeg.
Not surprising for the son of an NFL running back, Reaves was a taste tester, trying different flavors in order to figure out which one he would want most in his future. “I probably couldn’t tell you what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to play sports... I was a soccer goalie; I played football. Football was probably my frontrunner for what I wanted to do and hockey just ended up working out first. I got drafted to my junior team and chose it that way.”
When he gets on the ice, fighting naturally gets stirred in. “It’s just my job,” Reaves said. “You know, I go to work-mode and whatever has to be done, has to be done and once the game is over I switch back to the smiles.”
Before a game, Reaves begins to heat up and prepare his inner monster by playing Call of Duty on Xbox. “I dominate there and my dominance carries over onto the ice. I do play hockey and I dominate that game too. I actually currently hold the Stanley Cup in my little series. I’ll play almost any war-game, any sports-game.” That dominance shows.
The rugged winger was the 2009-10 team leader in penalty minutes but through 27 games, Reaves was third on the team in penalty minutes behind Dean Arsene and Graham Mink. Not all penalty minutes are good but most of Reaves are intentional and mixed in at just the right time.
“I’m shocked that I’m not first,” Reaves half-joked as he prepared for three games last weekend. “I know [Mink] has a couple 10 minute misconducts that I haven’t taken yet so I’ll see if I can work on that.” After Sunday’s game against Lake Erie, Reaves had put himself just 1 minute behind Mink for the top spot.
Reaves’ aggressive play earned him his NHL debut on Oct. 11 and the change in leagues didn’t change his style of play. In the second period of his first game, Reaves stirred up a fight with Anaheim's Kyle Chipchura and was given a game misconduct for not having his jersey tied down. “It was good. It was actually a guy I used to play junior against. Been a little bit of rivals when we played against each other, didn’t really like one another, but it felt good to get the first NHL one out of the way. Didn’t go as exactly planned with the tie-down but it was fun; had a good experience.”
Now playing in his fourth pro season, Reaves has played for four coaches in Peoria. He has seen hundreds of players come through the Rivermen locker room. And even with all the rookies tossed into the pot this season he knows this group is special.
“This is probably the tightest group I’ve been with. I know a lot of people say that in the interviews but really we all go out together. Nobody’s ever excluded. My first year here we kinda had cliques and it wasn’t a lot of chemistry. The older guys kind of stuck with older guys, younger guys, you know. We all like the rookies as older guys on the team and I think they all respect us and nobody is too over the top with the rookies.
“I joke a lot but... we don’t really have any guys on our team who are really mean to the rookies. I know some guys try to play the role on some teams but we don’t really have anybody like that. I get along with them, I try to help them out. I will joke around with them a lot, I’ll play a prank on them any opportunity I can, but we got a good group of rookies this year.”
As far as his best prank, Reaves said it “has yet to be seen. It’s still in the works.”
As for the rest of this season, Reaves said that the recipe for success is to “just keep doing what we’re doing. We’re practicing really hard, we’re getting really good practices in and it’s showing in our games. We’re a team that doesn’t give up.”
According to Reaves, this season “is probably the toughest schedule I’ve been part of in my pro career,” and with the holidays right around the corner Reaves said, “I would be lying if I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas, a little break off... but then after that, right back to it.” With four games right before the break, Reaves said the Rivs have to “take care of that and try and jump on top of the league, come back from Christmas, and just pick up where we left off.”
Despite the tough schedule, Reaves is feeling good about where the Rivermen are heading and how the team chemistry continues to build. “I think it’s a great group of guys right now and our chemistry comes onto the ice, you can see it. We’re almost top in the league right now so you know it’s only going to get better.” But as far as cooking for the team goes, Reaves said that’s not happening. “Absolutely not, that’s too many mouths to feed, too many hungry boys right there.”
By: Lee Pikelny