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Malone Family Traditions

Malone Family Traditions

For as long as Ryan Malone can remember, hockey has been etched into his life.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Ryan frequented Penguins games and watched his father, Greg ‘Bugsy’ Malone, play for the team. The hockey atmosphere fueled his passion for the sport as he hoped he, too, might get the chance to play in the NHL someday.

His childhood playing days began on the linoleum floor, skating from wall to wall in hand-woven socks from his grandmother. He and his brother slid around playing hockey until there were holes on one side of the socks; then they’d flip them over so the holes were at the top of their feet.

He couldn’t help but play, but it wasn’t until high school that his father asked him whether he wanted to pursue baseball or hockey—his two passions.

Ryan chose hockey, and his father told him all about a camp in Nisswa, Minn., started by Herb Brooks and Chuck Grillo. Greg encouraged his son to attend Minnesota Hockey Camps for as many weeks as he wanted, as long as he took it seriously.
“My mom called and asked me how it was going,” Ryan said. “I said, ‘It’s not good. Mom, I can’t walk up stairs. My legs are so sore. I’ve never been this sore.’”After the first week of camp, Ryan began to question what he was getting himself into.

He went back for five more weeks. The pain subsided, his muscles strengthened and Ryan went on to become the first Pittsburgh native to play for his hometown Penguins team. Without Minnesota Hockey Camps, Ryan knows the outcome could have been much different.

“I loved it,” Ryan said. “You have a group of guys doing the same thing you are, and you all push each other. There were quite a few of us from different colleges, so we’d show up, have fun and work hard. Sometimes when you’re having fun, you don’t realize you’re working hard.”

Dubbed ‘Little Bugsy’ after his father, Ryan moved to Minnesota and played hockey at Shattuck St. Mary’s and St. Cloud State. More of an all-star baseball player than a hockey skater at times, he was determined to get better, and returned to Minnesota Hockey Camps any chance he got.

The ice time, dryland training and run-ins with No. 1 draft picks at the camp made Ryan realize just how much work he still had ahead of him.

Family traditions

Greg spent multiple summers coaching at Minnesota Hockey Camps. He knew full well what his son was getting into.

“I’m sure for him to see me kind of work hard and pursue something was fun for both of us,” Ryan said. “We even got some of our cousins that went, so it turned out to be a little family summertime activity, which was fun.”

For the Malone family that doesn’t go a holiday gathering without a little backyard hockey, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to spend time together at Minnesota Hockey Camps.

Ryan Malone USARyan’s cousin and fellow camper, Brad Malone, also went on to play in the NHL. For Ryan, the chance to play at that level was well worth the hours of training he endured during summers in Minnesota.
“You always dream about it,” Ryan said. “But in all honestly, Minnesota Hockey Camps had a lot to do with that. With the training, they teach you about character and what it takes to persevere. I put a lot of time in out there. I loved playing hockey. I’d play hockey anywhere in the world, and I was lucky enough to be able to play in the NHL. That was definitely a privilege.

“I was playing up at Minnesota Hockey Camps for 15 or 16 years. There’s a certain family-type atmosphere where you push each other in practices. It’s a perfect world.”

Since his retirement in 2015, Ryan’s perfect world has turned into one that involves more time with his two young sons. He’s not on the ice quite as much as he used to be, but he can’t keep far from the game of hockey.

“It brings our whole family together,” Ryan said. “It’s something we share.”

MHC's Flyin' Hawaiian

MHC's Flyin' Hawaiian

When Carter Horwitz arrived at Minnesota Hockey Camps, he quickly realized it would be an unforgettable experience.

Nevermind the fact that Horwitz didn’t own hockey socks, and wasn’t even aware that shoulder pads were a part of the game. He had travelled all the way from Hawaii, and he was ready.

Thanks to a camper who had left equipment in weeks prior, Horwitz strapped on the spare pads and took his brand new skates out of the box.

“They were as dull as can be,” Horwitz said. “But I was out there having a blast, getting my first real taste of ice hockey and everything it would take.”

The California native wasn’t completely unfamiliar to the game. He had grown up playing roller hockey, and eventually decided to take a stab at ice hockey while his family was living in Hawaii—a move they made when Horwitz was in elementary school.

Before Horwitz reached high school, his family left the tropical paradise and moved back to the mainland. He and his family began emailing hockey teams in the area, but realized the chances of Horwitz joining a team were slim. Tryouts were held in June, and it was already August.

He landed a last-minute tryout with LA Hockey Club, but was told he’d have to work hard if he even wanted playing time.

“I showed up for the first day, and I was, by far, the worst kid on the ice,” Horwitz said. “I just really, really wanted to be there and play.

Game changer

Horwitz continued to spend his summers at Minnesota Hockey Camps, and transformed his game. He went from being the worst kid on the ice to a Division III hockey player.

Now a sophomore defenseman at Endicott College, Horwitz also spent time playing at Shattuck St. Mary’s, the NAHL and with other teams.

“I had gotten exponentially better each summer,” Horwitz said. “I would go back to Minnesota Hockey Camps every summer and continue to see improvements.”

So much, in fact, that Horwitz became known for his incredible speed and garnered the nickname ‘Flyin’ Hawaiian’ from camp staff.

At first, fellow campers had a hard time believing Horwitz had come all the way from Hawaii. But for him, simply being at the camp had turned his dreams into realities.

During one of his first summers, Horwitz remembers seeing NHL star Scott Hartnell, and couldn’t help but ask for an autograph.

When Horwitz witnessed NHL players at the camp doing the same workouts he was doing, something in his mind changed.

“I realized that the best people at that camp take it very seriously,” Horwitz said. “That’s when it clicked in my brain that hockey is fun, but it’s hard work. In order to continue to grow, you have to do what nobody else does, which is what that camp does. Nobody trains more efficiently and more effectively than when you’re at that camp.”

Horwitz recognizes his achievements, but knows there’s always room for improvement, and work to be done year round.

In order to hone in on those developments, he knows there’s no better place than Minnesota Hockey Camps.

“As soon as you walk in that big sliding door, and you enter the gym area, something in your mind clicks and it’s business time,” Horwitz said. “That’s when the work is laid out for the rest of the year … There’s a feeling that I owe it to myself because of how far I’ve come and how far I want to go.”