Huntington Beach native, USPHL grad Ralsten off to NCAA D-III Bryn Athyn
Ismael Ralsten, a goalie brought up in Huntington Beach and in California youth hockey, used the skills he picked up in California and took it across the continent as a junior player.
Now, he is set to show off his wares at the collegiate level at NCAA Division III Bryn Athyn (Pa.) College.
The 20-year-old wrapped up a solid junior career this past season with the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) Tier II junior level of the USPHL with the Islanders Hockey Club out of North Andover, Mass., taking his post-California development full circle.
From his time with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and California Wave organizations, Ralsten played a pair of seasons with the Islanders Hockey Club’s 18U team. From there, he took his act north of the border for a pair of seasons before returning to the Islanders’ NCDC team this past season.
“It was a great time,” said Ralsten of the experience of traveling to different areas of the continent. “It was a fun year.”
Ralsten said while the level of play is similar – all four leagues are at the Tier II level — there are some differences.
“There’s a lot more physicality and fighting is much more a part of the game in Canada,” recalled Ralsten. “I think this year with the Islanders, my team only got in one fight. The game was different in Canada because they play a lot tougher.”
With the Islanders, Ralsten played 14 games, posting a record of 8-5-1-0 with a 3.11 goals-against average and a save percentage of .907. At the end of the season, Ralsten got to spend some time in California, but he is now back in Massachusetts working toward his next step forward at Bryn Athyn.
Ralsten returned to train in the Stop It Goaltending training sessions run by Brian Daccord. The popular and highly-rated program boasts a long list of goaltenders that have trained there and gone on to successful NCAA college careers and have worked with no less than 25 goaltenders who were drafted into the NHL.
“I don’t even spend summers in California – I spend them in Massachusetts with Brian Daccord and his group. I also help train and coach younger goalies while I am out here,” Ralsten added. “It’s a really good gig and I enjoy it. It’s helped me progress a lot as a goaltender as well. I’ve been working with them for four years. I’ve really learned a lot.”
As for the challenges ahead at the college level, Ralsten is both excited and confident to get things started.
“It’s kind of a new hockey program at Bryn Athyn,” said Ralsten. “It’s their third season coming up. They had a bit of a step back last year (8-17-1). They ended up losing 10 games that were one-goal games.”
Ralsten said he believes a new group of freshmen will help the program reverse its fortunes this season.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “It’s a good school about 15 minutes outside the city of Philadelphia.”
While the game has taken him across the continent, Ralsten learned the basics and progressed to a top level in California. Ducks legend Jean-Sebastien Giguere was a big influence on the young goaltender.
“I tried to get the same gear as him when I played for the Jr. Ducks,” said Ralsten.
Playing for the Jr. Ducks allowed Ralsten a chance to meet other Ducks greats like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Kunitz.
“I was a big fan and they were amazing people when they were on the ice with us,” said Ralsten. “They were a big influence on me and a big part of why I got into hockey.”
He may not realize it yet, but Ralsten’s success and edication to honing his craft as a goalie may be the inspiration that helps a new generation of young California skaters.
— Jim DenHollander/USPHL.com
(Sept. 5, 2019)