After honing his craft in the State of Hockey, Ryan Antonakis has visited both sides of the continent playing junior primarily at the Tier-2 level through the past couple seasons.
The 5’11, 185 lbs. defender now finds himself in Maine, doing all he can to help the Twin City Thunder not only reach the NCDC postseason, but make a splash upon arrival as well. He also hopes to make a splash next fall when he joins the University of New England, an NCAA Division III school in the coastal town of Biddeford, Maine.
“I spent the first three years of high school playing for Lakeville North High School,” said Antonakis in an e-mail interview adding he opted to jump into Tier-2 junior in his final season of high school, staying close to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area while doing so. “I was lucky enough to be able to live at home and play hockey in the State of Hockey.”
After graduating high school, Antonakis played junior in different leagues in northern Minnesota and British Columbia last season before landing in Auburn, Maine, this past fall.
He will remain in the Pine Tree State for the next four seasons as well.
“I have always wanted to play college hockey out east and UNE reached out to me at the beginning of this season while playing in Maine,” said Antonakis. “I really liked the medical-focused aspect of the school as well as the great hockey program and decided it was a great fit for me. I enjoyed playing in New England and wanted to play college hockey close to my sisters as well, so that definitely all affected my decision.
“I’m not sure what my major will be, but I’m looking to study something science-related and hopefully enter the medical field.”
“We are excited that Ryan has earned this opportunity to continue his hockey career while getting a great education at UNE,” said Thunder Owner/Head Coach Dan Hodge. “He’s a player that has made a great impact with us this season and I am looking forward to seeing his game take the next step at the college level. He is fortunate to be getting the opportunity play for a top college program and for Coach [Kevin] Swallow and his staff”
With the next four years locked down, Antonakis can return his focus to the task at hand, continuing the march up the standings for the Twin City Thunder.
Before the Hub, the Thunder was mired near the bottom of the NCDC North Division, partly due to a light schedule compared to many of the other teams. In Florida, the team has made a modest move in the standings, inching closer to the mid-pack teams in the competitive division. Back in New England now, the Thunder still has a slew of games to try to fit in before the start of the postseason.
Antonakis has contributed seven assists in 25 games played so far this season, playing a big role on defense. He says the team, which sits just under .500 currently has been rowing together to make a move.
“I think the busy schedule has brought us closer as a team while playing in the Hub,” said Antonakis. “Being able to stay so close while rooming together at the resort has allowed us to improve our team chemistry and had a positive impact throughout the game-packed schedule.”
The USPHL congratulates Ryan Antonakis, his family, the Twin City Thunder and the University of New England for his commitment.