HIS dream move to the NHL might have collapsed this summer, but Ryan MacDonald last night had no regrets as he became the latest player to join the Mobilx Vipers, writes PAUL GILDER.
The Canadian has quit Fresno Falcons to continue his career in England and will go into the forthcoming Elite League season as Newcastle’s starting netminder.
Rob Wilson – whose side will begin their competitive campaign with a trip to Hull on September 8 – believes MacDonald could prove to be the find of the season.
And although he had hoped to join an NHL franchise when he left his ECHL club, the 22-year-old last night insisted he is relishing the challenges that await him in the North-East.
“This is a really exciting move,” he said. “I’ve been talking to Rob Wilson for a while now about a move to the UK, but I knew there was an opportunity for me in the NHL.
“With the offer not coming from the NHL, I knew I wanted to move to Europe. Rob Wilson had postponed on signing his netminder hoping I would become available and having spoken at length about Newcastle I’m delighted to be playing in the Elite League next season.
“When a coach shows this much faith and commitment in you, you have to take that jump as not many clubs or coaches would hold out for a player. I’m familiar with a number of players in the squad and Rob has spoken to me about the club and its developments. It was a no-brainer to move to the UK and the Vipers.”
MacDonald recorded a 92.5% save percentage in his 40 games in the ECHL last season and Wilson is adamant his arrival on Tyneside represents a considerable coup.
“I’m delighted to have Ryan in a Vipers’ jersey next season,” said the Vipers’ player-coach last night. “I’ve been talking to Ryan for two months and was desperate to sign him. There were a number of other netminders I could have signed, some well known to the league, but I knew I had to get this signature.
“He’s a young man with huge potential and I’m sure he will be a star this season and will one day go on to bigger and better things. He played in a mediocre team last year but was the shining star of that team. Without Ryan, Fresno’s season would have been a lot worse.”
Macdonald will make his Vipers debut in an exhibition game at Coventry on September 1 and his home debut the following day when the Blaze make the return journey to the Metro Radio Arena. The game at Newcastle will face off at 5.30pm. Tickets are available from the Metro Radio Arena box office or via 0191 2422420.