BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Ryan Larkin was born two days after the Detroit Red Wings won the 1997 Stanley Cup.
Even without that tidbit, Larkin was certainly born to be a hockey player.
Finishing up his senior year at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Larkin said this season will be his last lacing up the skates unless an incredible offer comes along, the cancelation of the NCAA season due to the coronavirus outbreak notwithstanding.
“I’ve talked to a couple teams, but I think for me, I’m at a point where I’m ready to move on to the next stage of my life,” Larkin said. “You know, my body’s wearing down a little bit, but on top of that, it’s more mentally for me, I think, being a goalie and you kind of have the whole game in your hand. There’s been a lot of pressure with that. And so, I think I’m just ready to step away from the game and what I would really love to do is obviously give back to the game and coach, hopefully coach high school hockey. That’s kind of become the dream of mine or the new dream, I think.
“That’s something that I’m comfortable with. I mean, there’s no regrets at all.”
Larkin finished the 2019-20 season with a 7-12-2 mark, a 3.47 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage for a Miami team that went 8-21-5 overall and finished seventh in the eight-team NCHC conference with a 5-16-3 record.
Born June 9, 1997 to Cindy and Paul Larkin, Ryan’s brother, Adam, played hockey at Yale University and pro hockey this season in the ECHL and in Slovakia, and a cousin, Colin Larkin, played at the University of Massachusetts-Boston before skating parts of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons in the AHL and ECHL.
Then there’s that other cousin, Dylan Larkin. You know, the one who wears No. 71 for the Detroit Red Wings.
“My dad is from Toronto, and he moved here to the United States to play soccer in college,” Larkin said. “And so with him being a Canadian, growing up, we were always watching the Toronto Maple Leafs and we live close to my uncle and my cousins and we all kind of started playing hockey together. I guess that’s kind of how it all started. Me, my brother, and my two cousins were all around the same age, so we all kind of learned everything together and we all did it together.”
While the other three were either forwards or defensemen, Larkin is the lone goalie from the group.
“I’m the youngest out of the four of us and I was the last to learn how to skate,” said Larkin. “We’d go to family events like Christmas and stuff, and everyone would be skating around me. I couldn’t skate, so they would make me play goalie and that’s kind of how it originally started. Then when I started organized hockey, my uncle was my coach and he would put me in net for big games, just because it was what I was used to doing playing in the street and playing mini sticks. I ended up being decent at it, so when I was around, probably 9 or 10 years old, the Lakeland Hawks asked me to try out as a defenseman and I tried out as a goalie and ran with it from there.”
As the years wore on, the Larkin quartet improved on the ice, but no one really realized it at the time.
“It just kind of happened,” said Larkin. “Eventually, we all made the jump to AAA and that was kind of a normal thing to do for some of our friends, so that even wasn’t anything crazy special. But I think when we first realized that we might have something good between the four of us was when the U.S. National Team Development Program started talking to Dylan and he got invited to that camp. And that’s kind of when we realized that we’ve been we’ve all been growing up together and we’ve all been playing together for so long, so if a team like Team USA is interested in Dylan, we all have to have some sort of potential.”
Shortly after that, Larkin played goal for the HoneyBaked 16U and 18U AAA teams, winning a state title with the 16U squad in 2012-13.
After starting his senior year at Clarkston High School in the fall of 2014, Larkin’s junior hockey rights were traded to the USHL’s Cedar Rapids (Iowa) RoughRiders, a team that wanted him to report as soon as possible.
“All of a sudden, within a week I was at Clarkson High School going through my senior year and I was bringing my backpack on a road trip and I get traded,” remembered Larkin. “And now my parents have to drop me off a car and all my clothes in Iowa. I didn’t have a chance to go home and say goodbye to anyone. Just like that, my senior year of high school, I had to get everything transferred. It happened so quickly. Obviously, it’s sad that I wasn’t able to finish out at Clarkston High School, but it just happened so quick that I didn’t even have time to, you know, miss anything. Just kind of thrown into a new situation and my brother had gone through the same thing the year before when he was out in Muskegon (USHL). My parents had obviously known what the process was like, and we all thought it was the best for me to move on to the next level.”
While in Cedar Rapids, Larkin participated in the USA Hockey All-American Top Prospects game in 2015, posting a 15-10-0 record with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage during the 2014-15 season. He played four games with the RoughRiders in 2015-16 prior to sustaining a season-ending hip injury. He then headed to Miami in Jan. 2016 while rehabbing that injury after being recruited by former RedHawks assistant coach Nick Petraglia.
“Nick would help out with a USA Hockey goalie camp in Ann Arbor and he told me I had a chance to come in and earn starting time by splitting with another goalie,” Larkin said. “I knew that meant I would come in and try and work my way to the No. 1 position and just have to try and prove myself every day. That’s something that a lot of goalies didn’t get because a lot of goalies come in underneath a junior or a senior and have to learn for two years and I was kind of given the opportunity to play right away. That was so intriguing about Miami to me and then, obviously, it’s a great school with a beautiful campus. It was just a perfect fit for me, and it all ended up working out.”
Away from the rink, Larkin is on track to graduate this spring.
“Technically, my major is basically like coaching and I have a minor in entrepreneurship and a minor in management, so sports management is kind of the business side of sports,” explained Larkin. “I want to use my coaching major to continue to coach. That’s my goal, and I want to eventually become a teacher as well.”
Through all of Larkin’s travels for hockey, his humble side shows that he has never forgotten his roots. Starting off at Bailey Lake Elementary, Larkin then went to Pine Knob Elementary before Sashabaw Middle School and Clarkston Junior High and three-plus years at CHS.
“There are so many things to remember, but I think the most important thing that I’ll ever take away is the relationships that I built in Clarkston,” Larkin said. “All my best friends are from Clarkston High School. You know, my mom always told me that when you go to college, you kind of go away from your high school friends, but it wasn’t like that for me. I stuck with my friends and, obviously, I’ll always miss the Friday night football games or going to Greg’s after the games. During school, it was always just me and the boys.
“Honestly, it’s the people that I miss the most about Clarkston.”