Ryan Cusin has always been a hockey guy. There was that one season he played lacrosse at Adrian, but other that, hockey has been his game.
He transferred into Wisconsin-River Falls last season and started playing for the Falcons midway through it.
But this has been the season where he’s really been able to showcase his talents, scoring 13 goals and dishing out 16 assists, carving out a spot among the top scorers in the WIAC.
“It’s been going pretty good. I trained a lot in the summer and it’s been rewarding to see me have this kind of season,” Cusin said. “I’ve put a lot of work in and having great teammates around me has really helped me have success, too.”
He began his career at UMass-Boston after playing for the Aston Rebels of the NAHL. He made quite an impression that freshman season, earning a spot on the USCHO All-Rookie team and coming away with New England Hockey Conference Rookie of the Year honors as well.
Cusin spent his sophomore year at Adrian before arriving at UW-River Falls where he appeared in nine games, tallying four goals and three assists during the 2018-19 season.
Knowing he’d have a full season in front of him this year, Cusin has had a chance to put toether a stellar senior year.
“Last year I was a little behind,” Cusin said. “It’s been nice to have a fresh start this year. “I was able to come out guns blazing for my final season.”
He used the summer months to prepare and it’s paid off on the stat line.
“I trained hard and lost some weight. That’s really made a difference on the ice,” Cusin said. “I worked a lot on shooting and I’ve been able to score more goals this year.”
Of course, without his teammates, he wouldn’t be in the position he is today.
“It’s unreal having the team that I do around me. They contribute a lot to my success and I do my part to contribute to their success. We really click as a team.”
Cusin said the hardest part of missing time last season was staying in shape.
“It was definitel rough because hockey shape is different than being in shape. The workouts just don’t compare,” Cusin said. “It took me about a month to get up to speed, and by that time, I didn’t have a lot of games left in the season.”
Cusin started playing hockey at a young age and will tell you scoring goals is his favorite part of the sport, along with the brotherhood that comes with being on a hockey team.
The interesting thing, however, is that he doesn’t come from a hockey family.
“No one in my family played hockey,” Cusin said. “My dad put me in it and it stuck. I’m glad he did. It’s been the love of my life for the past 20 years or so.”
UW-River Falls sits at 13-6-3 overall and is 5-5-2 in the conference. Like Cusin, Christian Hausinger is having a big year, punching in nine goals and dishing out 20 assists. Cayden Cahill has 10 goals and 16 assists.
Three games remain in the season, including two against nationally ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
The Falcons are hopeful they can finish on a high note heading into the league tournament.
“We feel good about our chances,” Cusin said. “We have some tough games to finish the year and it’s going to be a grind, but it’s a good test for us before the playoffs.”
As for his future, Cusin hopes to be playing hockey beyond college.
“That’s in my future plans,” Cusin said. “Personally, I’d like to go overseas, but we’ll see what happens. I mainly want to do it for the experience, whether it’s being a pro here in the states or overseas. It would be a great opportunity for me.”
Around the West Region
Concordia sits in second place in the MIAC with 20 points. The Cobbers, who are 13-6-1 overall and 8-3-1 in the MIAC, are led by Tyler Bossert, who ranks second on the team in points (22). He’s accumulated most of those off assists, coming through with 17.
Three teams in the MIAC have all scored 60 goals this season. Augsburg, Gustavus and St. Thomas have reached the mark. Saint John’s isn’t too far behind, having tallied 59 on the year. Saint Mary’s has scored 56 goals.
The WIAC features four teams with at least 12 wins. Wisconsin-Eau Claire leads the way with 16 and has won its last four games.
UW-River Falls has the second-most wins with 13 while Wisconsin-Stevens Point has rattled off three consecutive wins and has won 12 games. Wisconsin-Superior has also won 12 games but has dropped its last four.
Jake Bresser leads the WIAC in goals, scoring 15 on the year, and he has also dished out 11 assists. He is one of six players in the conference with 10 or more goals. Luke McElhenie ranks second in the league in goals, punching in 13 on the year.
Finlandia has hope of making the playoffs and can clinch a berth by sweeping Saint Scholastica or by coming out of the series against the Saints with a win and a tie. Two losses would end the Lions’ hopes for a playoff berth.
St. Norbert features the points leader and goals leader in the conference. Bates tops the NCHA with 34 points and is third in assists with 21 points. Kurt Black has scored 17 goals to top the league in that category.
In the Poll: UW-Eau Claire is the lone team in the West Region ranked in the top five. Lake Forest checks in at No. 7 and Adrian is 11th this week. Augsburg and UW-Stevens Point are ranked 12th and 13th, respectively.