Photo courtesy of Shannon Valerio
Transitioning to an elite level of competition is challenging for any athlete. While the physical demands are evident, the leap equally tests one’s mentality. Unlike most players striving to reach college hockey, the process of arriving amongst the University of Denver Pioneers’ roster was atypical for Ryan Orgel and Jared Resseguie.
“It all happened pretty quick,” Orgel said. “It was a dream come true. I’m just so excited for my future here.”
Orgel, a Los Angeles, Calif. native, was playing in his second season of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) with the Lone Star Brahmas when he was requested to join Denver’s program effective immediately. Orgel had produced 38 points on 15 goals and 23 assists over his 67 games played in the NAHL.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound defenseman arrived on campus right around Thanksgiving, just days after he accepted the offer. Within two weeks Orgel made his collegiate debut against the University of Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Dec. 2. Orgel was integrated into Denver’s lineup as a result of the vulnerability among the blueline.
Senior captain Tariq Hammond didn’t suit up until the Pioneers’ 11th game of the season on Friday, Nov. 17 against then the third-ranked University of North Dakota. Hammond was recovering from off-season ankle surgeries from the gruesome injury he sustained in the national championship. Senior alternate captain Adam Plant’s status fluctuated. Plant would end up missing seven games during the month of December with a concussion.
“The process of bringing them [Orgel and Resseguie] in was we had a lot of injuries to defensemen. We thought if we could bring somebody in that’s going to be a big part of our future then we thought let’s bring them in,” head coach Jim Montgomery said. “Then McLellan got hurt that first weekend after Thanksgiving break and we were down to 13 forwards. We were like, ‘Well if we can find the right forward we will.’ Both of them have similar traits as people as Evan Ritt [‘17] did, the last person we brought in like that. He was an incredible Pioneer. We think both of these young men are going to be great people on-campus, off-campus representing our program as true Pioneers.”
Similar to Ritt, Denver’s newest addition Resseguie, played triple-A with the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders. Ritt played with the 18-under team whereas Resseguie captained the 16-under team.
Resseguie was added to the DU roster on Jan. 3. Framed at 6-foot, 170-pounds, the Arvada, Colo. native grew up watching Pioneer hockey with his parents.
“I came back for winter break for a week. I got a call the first day asking if I wanted to come play here,” Resseguie said. “It’s an obvious yes because it’s close to home, it’s a great team and a great school. It was a really shocking surprise, but it was really cool.”
With the university operating on the quarter system, the first-day of classes was Jan. 3 – a rapid turnaround for the right-shot forward.
“It’s been kind of crazy,” Resseguie said. “I only had a week to prepare to come back to school and I’ve been out of school for two-years. That’s been tough, but all the guys have been helping me out. The hockey is a lot faster so I’m trying to get up-to-pace with that. There’s a lot more systems that I have to get used to, but I think I’m doing pretty well. The coaches and players are really helpful as well.”
Joining a program with little-to-no preparation imposes obstacles, but the coaching staff is confident in the two players selected to sport the Crimson and Gold.
“The expectations aren’t that high,” Montgomery said. “It’s to come be a good teammate, push our team, and improve our depth. Hopefully, they can catch on quick, maybe surprise us and be a big part of in-game momentum too. Orgel is a little ahead because he’s had a couple more weeks of practice then Res [Resseguie] has had. He’s just had less than a week of practice…not even, he’s only had three practices. He’s a little behind the eight-ball so we’ll see. There is the possibility that we don’t have to use Res. We could redshirt him and he has four-years still to play. There are some options more with Res than with Orgel.”