To close the 2017-2018 NHL season, Washington Capitals forward, and star UND Alum T.J Oshie won the Stanley Cup as the Caps defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in five games. This marks a milestone for the famed Duncan-Oshie-Toews line that delighted UND fans in the 2006-2007 season. Everyone who played on that line has one at least one league championship in their professional careers.
Toews and Oshie both have their Stanley Cups(Three for Toews, One for Oshie), while Hobey Baker Award winner Ryan Duncan has four league championships in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (EBEL) , the top pro league in Austria, with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria along with an IIHF Continental Cup Championship. Duncan’s season kicks off in a few weeks as his side takes part in the Champions Hockey League, a European competition that is a best-on-best tournament for most top leagues in Europe.
Duncan has had some time to reflect on his two linemates, and the unique aspect of all three members of a college hockey line winning a league championship in professional hockey. Below are some questions of mine on his time at UND, and his thoughts on the success of his linemates along with some unique stories about them.
Tell us something about your linemates that people do not know.
1. “It’s tough to think of something that people don’t already know about both Osh and Jon because they’re such big public figures now but I have two stories about them that people might not know. First with Osh, I don’t know if this story has been told yet but I think he wasn’t supposed to come to UND in 2005. I think the original plan for him was to go play a year of junior and then come to UND in 2006. There were a couple guys who left early and signed pro in the summer of 2005 and that opened up a spot for Osh. As soon as he arrived on campus it was pretty evident he was more than ready for the college game and his outstanding freshman season proved that. Kind of a similar story with Jon. Jon had just turned 15 years old and decided to move from Winnipeg to Shattuck-St. Mary’s to further his hockey career. He was very highly touted and expectations were high for him coming in. When he arrived at Shattuck he had an underwhelming tryout to say the least. The Coaches ended up naming him to the Prep team (top team at Shattuck) anyway but I’ll never forget what the Coaches said at our first team meeting. They said they had selected some guys for the Prep team based on what they had done in the past and not necessarily what they had done in tryouts so they would have a lot of proving themselves to do during the season. Needless to say I think Jonny more than proved himself. He ended up leading our team in goals that season.”
What on-ice skills did you learn from your linemates?
2. “I learned a lot from both of them on the ice. Their talent is obviously elite but they did so many little things well. Osh was so strong on his skates and his puck skills were off the charts. The puck seemed to stick to his blade. Jonny was so tenacious and determined on the puck. He wouldn’t be denied. I try my best to mimic some of those characteristics but it’s easier said than done.”
What did it mean to see Toews and Oshie win their respective championships?
3. “To witness Jonny and Osh achieve the success they have had at the highest level of hockey has brought me a huge sense of pride. Whether it be their success Internationally or in the NHL, every time they do something special it reiterates to me how lucky I was to play with such world class players and people. And knowing all of the hard work they have put into obtaining those goals makes me appreciate them even more.”
How often do all three of you stay in touch?
4. “Admittedly, the three of us aren’t in contact as much as we used to be or we would like to be but when we do get to talk or spend time together it’s a real pleasure. We had an undeniable chemistry on the ice that is hard to find and that chemistry definitely extended to off the ice as well. We developed a deep bond during those years and even though we might not talk as much anymore that bond still runs deep.”
Looking back on your time at UND, what was your favorite class here?
5. “I was fortunate to have a lot of enjoyable classes with some great professors during my time at UND. If I have to pick one favorite class I would probably say one of my business management courses taught by Professor Kathy Jones. I’m a business management major so I believe Mrs. Jones taught me a few classes. She left a big impact on a lot of her students including me. She was very encouraging and she created a really fun classroom atmosphere.”
Whenever you retire from playing, do you know what you want to do next?
6. “I’m not sure what I want to do after I’m done playing quite yet. Hopefully I’ll stay involved with the game of hockey in some capacity but I’ve got a young growing family so what’s best for them will be my first priority. But hopefully I have a little more time to figure things out before I cross that bridge.”