After a long few days of travel, Ryder Korczak arrived back in the Friendly City and hit the ice with the Moose Jaw Warriors for his first practice of the season on Thursday.
“It’s a whirlwind,” Korczak said. “Going from Hartford back to Moose Jaw, it’s a long drive, but I’m definitely ready for this weekend.”
The Warriors are also ready for their star 20-year-old forward to be back in the lineup.
Head coach Mark O’Leary said Korczak’s return comes at the right time for the team, who have dropped back-to-back games.
“I don’t think there’s a bad time to have Korczak come back, but we’re not real happy with where our games at right now, we’re looking to change that and certainly having Ryder in the lineup helps,” he said.
“[Korczak] adds to our top-six depth, that will help solidify things up there for sure.”
Korczak posted 25 goals and 79 points in 68 games last season with the Warriors and signed an entry-level contract with the New York Rangers in the process.
He started the season with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League, playing in five games, but the Rangers’ organization decided to reassign the third round pick over the weekend.
Korczak said there was some disappointment in being sent back to junior hockey, but he’s excited to be back.
“We’ve got a good team here, so I’m excited to get going,” he said.
“Look at the team here, we’ve got a bunch of skilled guys, we got depth, so if you’re looking at the team here, I mean there’s nothing really to get down on.”
Captain Denton Mateychuk said Korczak’s return should provide a spark to the team.
“He’s a special player,” he said. “We’re excited to have him and he’s going to be a huge boost for us.”
In 200 career WHL games, Korczak has 54 goals and 177 points. He was one of the most dynamic players in the WHL last season and is expected to provide that kind of impact again this season for the Warriors.
“He’s a creative guy, he’s a competitive guy and most importantly, he’s a real popular guy in the dressing room, so I know his teammates are as excited as I am,” O’Leary said.
Korczak, a Yorkton product, said he learned a lot from the past few months, training in New York and then playing in the AHL.
“It’s a different game going from the WHL to the AHL, guys are men out there, so that’s my biggest thing is just trying to get bigger and stronger,” Korczak said.
“There’s always room for improvement, but this summer, I thought I did a good job getting a little bit sturdier over pucks.”
Korczak added that he’s also here to lead the Warriors.
“Hopefully I can rub it off on a couple of guys here and get them ready for the next step too,” he said.
Korczak returns to the lineup for the Warriors this weekend when the team takes on the Swift Current Broncos in a home-and-home set on Friday and Saturday.