Ben Blanchard, Sports Editor
In the Larkin household, being a hockey prodigy is more standard than surprising. Miami hockey's starting goaltender, first-year Ryan Larkin, has followed in the footsteps of his cousins and older brother, hoping to be the next Larkin to have a lasting impact on the hockey world.
Ryan's cousin, Dylan Larkin, is one of the National Hockey League's brightest young stars. Drafted 15th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 2014, Dylan was a standout for the University of Michigan in his one and only season with the Wolverines.
After going pro and becoming the first 19-year-old to debut on opening night since Mike Sillinger in 1990-91, Dylan led the Wings with 23 goals last season. At the NHL All-Star game SuperSkills competition, he set the NHL record for fastest skater with a time of 13.172 seconds, breaking Mike Gartner's 1996 record of 13.386.
"It's been awesome to watch Dylan and all the success he had last year," Ryan said. "We're really close, so it was hard that I wasn't able to be there for a lot of his big moments. He wanted me to go to the All Star game but I couldn't make it."
Ryan and Dylan aren't the only Larkins to have found success on the ice, as Dylan's older brother Colin led UMass-Boston to last year's Division III Frozen Four and Ryan's older brother Adam is a junior defenseman at Yale.
"It's huge honor to be a part of such a hockey family, it definitely shaped me as a player," Ryan said. "Being the youngest, being a step behind, I was always following in their footsteps. They were able to tell me what to look out for and what to be ready for, they were all leaders for me in life and helped guide me along the way."
One of 14 Miami hockey first-years, Ryan has had to backstop a very young team through its fair share of growing pains. MU (3-8-4 overall, 0-4-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) had a great start to the season, starting 3-1-2 in spite of its youth. Since an Oct. 28 win over Bowling Green, however, the 'Hawks have been unable to pick up another victory.
"We've had a tough stretch, but we haven't lost our confidence," Ryan said. "If we stick to our systems and play Miami hockey, the games will come. I know we'll be where we need to come April."
While the RedHawks haven't gotten their desired results of late, Larkin has not been the problem. Starting 14 of 15 games, Ryan has a .910 save percentage and 2.71 goals against average. In two key ties at No. 1 Denver, Ryan stopped 87 shots while only allowing three goals. He attributes much of his success as a goalie to being the youngest member of the Larkin clan.
"The funny thing is, I was the youngest of the four of us," Ryan said. "I couldn't skate when we were really little, so they ended up just throwing me in net. I guess it worked out for the best."
Following back-to-back road series, Ryan and the Miami University hockey team return to Oxford looking for their first win in ten games and first NCHC victory this weekend against Colorado College. The puck drops in the Goggin Ice Center 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.