From busy days at the rink to jam-packed lectures in the classroom.
Ryan Gillen experienced that pathway firsthand, who after four seasons in the Western Hockey League, counting stops with the Prince George Cougars, Tri-City Americans, and Calgary Hitmen, moved on to the varsity ranks where he suited up for another five seasons.
In 2008, the product of Golden, B.C., began pursuing his academics at the University of Calgary while doubling as a defenceman with the Dinos. Obtaining his Bachelor of Commerce and majoring in petroleum land management, it’s a degree Gillen puts to use today as a mineral land negotiator with Calgary-based Murphy Oil.
“My overarching role is to acquire and maintain the subsurface rights so that we are able to explore, develop, and produce for hydrocarbon fuel,” Gillen told Junior Hockey Magazine as part of its CHL Leaders segment. “Oddly enough, this was something I was considering before I got into the WHL.
“In my 17-year-old year, I began playing Jr. A. In October of that year, Prince George requested that I come play with them. I sat down with my parents and weighed the pros and cons, and the scholarship aspect that came with it. I honestly think that if there wasn’t the WHL scholarship component to it, I’m not entirely sure I would have made the decision to leave Jr. A to go to the WHL. That’s a Class 1 option when pro hockey doesn’t play out for you.”
Gillen debuted with the Cougars in the 2004-05 season, appearing in 37 games, in what ultimately served as his introduction into junior hockey and the active lifestyle that comes with it. While hockey was always a priority for Gillen, he also made a point to prepare for his future. Over four seasons, he appeared in 213 games before deciding to pursue greater prospects through a post-secondary education.
“Hockey is still the key focus when you’re high school age,” Gillen explained. “You need to put an emphasis on your grades as well, but you’re travelling around, training, practicing, and very hockey focused, but you need to be efficient with your time. Truly, you have too much going on from a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, so your time management and efficiency needs to be paramount.
“Everything about the WHL is a big, grandiose stage – all aspects of it – high-quality hockey, high-level players, everything is very high level. Looking back on it, I feel fortunate to have spent four years in the league with some of the players that I did.”
Listen to Ryan Gillen’s full interview with Junior Hockey Magazine here.