January 6, 2012

Hairy to play against, that man with the beard

Ryan Hollweg doesn't score much for the Pirates, but does everything else a good hockey team needs.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Ryan Hollweg is a master at producing momentum for the Portland Pirates, particularly with completing checks against opponents.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette./Staff Photographer

COMING UP

TODAY: Pirates at Providence Bruins, 7:05 p.m.

SATURDAY: Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Pirates, 7 p.m.

SUNDAY: Pirates at Worcester Sharks, 3 p.m.

When he was 13, Hollweg played for a team of elite players based in Redwood City in northern California.

"There were 13 Russians on the team and some Canadians," he said. "We must have played more than 100 games that season. We played in tournaments all over North America."

While attending Delphi Academy in Langley, British Columbia, Hollweg played two full seasons for the Langley Hornets in the British Columbia Hockey League.

"I left home early and I grew up pretty quick," he said. "Being away from your family at a young age was tough but I got to do something I really love. Being from California, playing hockey every day as a kid wasn't even an option. It was a dream come true to be able to do that."

In 1999, when he was 16, the Medicine Hat Tigers made Hollweg the first pick in the Western Hockey League draft.

After playing junior hockey, the Rangers selected Hollweg in the eighth round of the 2001 NHL draft.

Hollweg began to grow the handlebar moustache that's become his trademark during one of his three seasons with the Rangers.

"In New York, it kind of started out as a joke," he said. "Once you have it, a lot of people expect it and you can't take it off. It's a part of you. It's like I'd let so many people down if I got rid of it. That's just who I am."

In recent weeks, Hollweg, 28, has added a full beard.

"The guys kind of like the beard right now, so I'm going to let them decide," he said.

Sometimes, Hollweg's extremely physical approach has gotten him into trouble.

Already, the AHL has suspended him twice for actions in games.

"Obviously I play on the edge and there's going to be times where I might go over it a little bit, especially the way the game is being called nowadays," he said. "I've got to be smart and I've got to be sure I'm playing within the rules."

But Hollweg doesn't intend to change his approach.

"I'm been fortunate enough in every hit I've had nobody's gotten hurt," he said, "but I'm going to go hard every day because that's the way I play."

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH

 

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