Photo credit: Mady Salvani Army West Point Athletics
Associate Head Coach for Army West Point Zach McKelvie took the time to answer a lot about sophomore forward Ricky Lyle Jr. First he focused on his growth as a cadet.”Ricky continues to mature and become more confident in his leadership ability. His parents, family, and community did a phenomenal job raising him and instilling the right values in him. Everybody comes here with a different background and develops differently here but for Ricky the biggest area of growth has been his leadership. Everyday his influence and respect on the team grows and as a result his confidence in his leadership ability has also grown.” McKelvie then went on to discuss what Lyle has done to make him a better coach saying “Ricky has genuine passions for the game and loves coming to the rink everyday. He comes from a great hockey community and has been coached by Minnesota legend Mike Randolph, so he has a good knowledge of the game as well. Ricky brings that knowledge and love for the game to the rink everyday, so its important that our staff is ready to go for him and push him out of his comfort zone. Guys like Ricky really bring out the best in coaches because he is all in and tries to absorb everything we throw at him.” In addition to all of this, Lyle’s personality shines through, as McKelvie said “Ricky is genuine, he is kind, driven and is humble. He’s a really easy person to be around and brings out positivity in everyone. He is a really good young man…everything we look for in our cadets.” The team didn’t have to seriously compete with too many other schools to get Lyle to commit , but don’t tell McKelvie that. The team worked hard to get him on campus. As he said, “I’m not really sure who we were recruiting against, but given the type of player Ricky is I would imagine a lot of coaches would love to have him on their team. For us it was more about focusing on our school and all the positives associated with the Academy. West Point is such a special place for so many reasons so we have really never focus on what other schools are saying. This is one of the best schools in the entire world and a great place to play college hockey, so really just try and communicate that to our recruits. When you step on campus you can’t help but feel how special this place is and I think Ricky felt that when he came on campus.” Lyle does it all for the team, and puts others ahead of himself. As McKelvie put it “Ricky has a love and passion for the game that not many have so he just loves being on the ice. That really translates to him bringing his best every single day….everyday in practice he brings it and that carries over to how he plays. He also has no regard for his body so he never shies away from playing in the hard areas which has helped him become a very effective power forward. Ricky can really do it all and is becoming a very complete player. He’s a great young man, will do anything for his teammates, loves hockey and truly understands what West Point is all about. As a coach at the end of the day you want to help these guys in every aspect of their life, not just hockey, and so getting the opportunity to be around Ricky and his teammates is rewarding everyday.”
Lyle was offered a spot by Army West Point the week of his grandfather’s funeral. His grandfather served in the Korean War and Lyle’s emotions about this were clear. “ The stars were aligning.” He came to visit in January of the time he spent with the Minnesota Magicians in the NAHL. Lyle had the most interest from Army West Point, and understands the gravity of playing at West Point and came from Duluth Minnesota to play here.
His game lends itself well to high end skill here, because as it has grown, Lyle has focused on using his speed to drive plays forward where possible over taking big check. Lyle loves to take those big checks where needed, but also has grown to realize the value of angling players off a puck in a certain way to stay in the play as having an equal or greater value to throwing the big check. He has learned how to be complete on the ice with his speed game over the years, which has opened up more minutes, and chances to get better.
Since making the transition to using his speed, Lyle’s penalty minutes have dramatically improved from over 90 in his last year in the USHL with Madison, to just two so far this season. He also credits player leadership including Colin Bilek for helping him to develop his game further, and is excited to grow more under the tutelage of the Coaching staff as his West Point career continues.
Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts