Local student pursues hockey dream

Upland Country Day School varsity hockey goalie Ryan Snowden has been invited to spend a year attending school and training with goal-tending coaches in Turku, Finland beginning on July 26, 2013. Snowden has been the starting goalie with the Upland Varsity Hockey team for the past two seasons. He has also played with Delaware Ducks Junior Flyers AAA team for the past three years.

“Training in Finland is a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in another country and learn goal tending from the best in the world,” Snowden remarks. “Just to go there and compete with them is a tremendous honor. I’m just going to do my best and see where it leads.”

Snowden will be staying with a Finnish family and spending his sophomore year attending the Turku International School in Turku, Finland. Turku International School is an English-speaking school, with small classes and students attending from all over the world – Africa, Japan, Europe. He met his host family and coaches, and toured the school when Upland’s 8th and 9th grade classes took their annual trip to Finland for 10 days in March. Upland marked the 35th anniversary of the school’s exchange program with Turku, Finland this year.

“Ryan is going to train in Finland to learn from the people who goal tend all over the world so well,” said Upland Country Day hockey coach, Court Dunn. “If you want to learn something well, go to where you can be trained to be the best at it. Although Ryan would like to play professionally one day, he is taking it one day at a time. For now, that means taking advantage of a great opportunity to train with the best in the world, and learn as much as he can and see where that leads.”

The Finnish are well known for having some of the best goal-tending coaches in the world and there are a number of Finnish goalies currently playing in the NHL including Jon Quick, Miikka Kiprusoff and Pekka Rinne.

Snowden started playing hockey at 3 years old and was the first in his family to do so. His dad took him to a Flyers game and from there, he was hooked. At three, he started playing with the Chester County Cougars. During the next two years, his love for the sport grew and coaches noticed his agility and quick reflexes at just 5-years-old, and started him as a goalie then.

“Ryan is a talented athlete who has been training in the Philadelphia area for five years,” says Dave Marlin, Ryan’s US goal tending trainer who was a professional goalie with U.S., Quebec, Austrian and Czech Republic teams. “Ryan is one of the best goalies I have ever coached and he has excellent potential, so I strongly encouraged him to train in Finland.”

In 2005, Marlin flew to Finland to study the Finnish style that was taking the NHL by storm. He has been back a number of times since and consulted with eight clubs there to learn the different teachings of each club. This has become the foundation of his coaching. The differences are numerous but Finnish style goalies are more athletic, flexible, active hands, better puck trackers and better balance. The Finnish focus on not forcing a style on a goalie but taking their strengths, working on their weaknesses and building a style with which the goalie can be successful. Many other schools are now shifting to the Finnish style but Marlin was the first in North America to introduce it. For more information, click here: http://www.marlingoaltending.com/about-3/

Snowden says likes playing goalie because he enjoys the intensity of being the one to stop the puck at the goal. He explains that a goalie never knows what to expect but the final responsibility rests on that player’s shoulders, and he is excited about going to Finland to study and learn hockey. Snowden will be playing on a team of players all one year old than he.

“The Finnish team practices six days a week and take it seriously,” Snowden said. “My goal is to become the best goalie I can be and to become a starter on the Finnish team before I leave. I’m also looking forward to living in another country.”

“Ryan is a really good kid, a good student and a true team player,” said Coach Dunn. That team inspiration comes from Snowden’s favorite player, Alexander Ovechkin with the Washington Capitals. “He is a true team player,” Snowden says. “Whoever scores, he celebrates.”

Snowden was born in Connecticut and currently lives in Jennersville, Pa. In addition to playing hockey at Upland this year, he played the lead role in the school’s production of Bye, Bye Birdie and played on the Varsity Soccer and Lacrosse teams. He lives with his parents and a brother and sister who are 11-year-old twins. Despite his passion for hockey, his siblings have their own interests -- hunting/fishing and dancing/swimming.

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