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The full article from NationalTeamsOfIceHockey.com is copied below. For the actual article you can go here

Ryan Bahl US Eagles
 

For those of you who don't know Ryan Bahl he is one of my best friends and a huge
contributor of this site. Ryan has just completed a life long dream of playing ice hockey on all the continents expect for the Antarctica. We have conducted a Q & A with him at his request, so here is his story.

Wayne Gretzky changed the way people saw Hockey in the State of California, Was Gretzky or the Los Angeles Kings the reason why you got into ice hockey and what did you like about the gam​e?

I definitely think so. I grew up in the 90's during the prime of the Gretzky era in California. I remember seeing him a few times at The Forum in LA and how he just played the game so much better than everyone else - I wanted to be him. Every single kid had a Gretzky jersey, and every single team had a #99 on it. Out there playing street hockey every kid also yelled out that they were Gretzky, so we played 5 on 5 street hockey with 10 Gretzky's. 

The birth year I grew up playing in also produced some of the first NHL players from California so it was definitely a great time for CA hockey. I played with and against guys like CJ Ruhwedel (Buffalo), Alec Martinez (LA), and Jonathon Blum (Minnesota). Since my birth year, California hockey has improved tenfold with more and more young guys getting drafted to the show, playing NCAA hockey, or playing in major juniors. The AHL also just launched a major expansion with 5 teams moving to California, as well as one being in my home town of San Diego. I think Gretzky was the start of hockey in California, but we are only just beginning to see what hockey in California will turn out to be.

Who was your favorite player or team growing up?

Don't hate me for saying this (I know you, George, love the leafs) but I grew up watching and idolizing Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov - especially growing up in CA where everyone was all about the Kings and Ducks, I thought I needed my own team and players. I would eventually (as of like 5 years old) start wearing either #19 or #91 and I still wear these numbers to this day.

What motivated you to play ice hockey around the globe?

I was playing a pretty decent level of hockey as I grew up and when I got to be 18 years old, I was looking into what to do next, then my grandparents actually took me on a trip to Europe. While in Europe I got to experience new cultures, new foods, new everything, and thought it was the most amazing time of my life! I had previously only really been to Canada for hockey trips, and never really experienced anything totally different. I think at this point my mentality changed from trying to make it to the NHL or somewhere else, to how many places can I visit while playing ice hockey? So, the quick answer I guess would have to be that my grandparents sparked this interest and let me transition it to hockey.

Your first stop was Hong Kong not exactly a hot bed hockey, What was that experience like to play in Asia?

I wanted to try something totally different. At this point I had to been Europe and North America, so I thought, "Hey, I might as well try going to Asia since I really like sushi." - even though sushi is from Japan and I was in China... My stop in Hong Kong was unfortunately not as long as I would have liked, but I didn't have a job and the hockey there wasn't paid for, nor did they have many sponsors to cover their league. I did get to do some traveling while I was there, and I absolutely loved everything about Hong Kong and Southern China. It's a beautiful country with a weird twist on ancient Chinese and modern western architecture. My wife actually really wants to go one of these days, so I'm sure this won't be the only time I go there.

Your next stop was the Canterbury Red Devils of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League. Can you tells little bit about the league and the team?

New Zealand is a beautiful country full of beautiful people (even if they are hard to understand). The Red Devils are one of the most decorated teams in the NZIHL and they play each season with some of the best import players, so it was great honor to be able to make their squad and play the season with them. The league is generally dominated by import players, but I think this is a much needed step if you are to raise local player's skill levels as well as the level of the league for future generations. New Zealand has done an amazing job with this, and I have already seen a world of difference in the 5 years since playing with them. The year I played in 2010/11 we missed the finals and playoffs by 1pt, so it was little disappointing, but getting the chance to meet so many wonderful people and some life time friends was really worth it. Our home rink in Canterbury was also located in Christchurch, which was just hit by that world-renowned earthquake 6 months before I arrived. I got to see first hand the damage that had occurred as well as how everyone worked together to fix their beloved city. I actually got to do my part by getting a job in construction for the Devil's Team Manager and working to help fix the concrete on broken buildings throughout the city. I have had many friends play in the NZIHL throughout the years as well, and all of whom had nothing but great things to say about the league and the beautiful country that Lord of the Rings was filmed in.

In 2012 you played for the USA Eagles and toured Australia, Can you tell the audience who are the USA Eagles and who did you play in Australia?

The following year (after playing in the NZIHL) I had the opportunity to go play in the Czech Republic. This year was also pretty significant because that summer I was home for only about 2 weeks before heading to the Czech, and in this time I met my wife while out playing hockey one day. I had got her information and stayed in contact with her while I was off in the Czech Republic, so it all worked out in the end!

My trip in the Czech Republic was also cut a little short as I had been in contact with some people about going to preseason camp in Ontario in the ECHL. The people I had met in the Czech Republic, in our small town of Zdar nad Sazavou, turned out to be some of the nicest people I had met in my travels - truly great life time friends. My wife and I would eventually visit my old club again and meet up with all those great people, and anytime I am in the Czech I make it a point go visit these people.

All of this built up to playing in Australia that next summer for the USA Eagles. In going to Australia, it was my second time in about 2 years going to the continent of Australia, which was really cool, since most people don't even get the chance to go there once. The Australia International Ice Hockey Cup (AIIHC) is a tournament that runs about a month long and brings in top level North American and European players to bring awareness to the sport "down unda". The hockey was surprisingly good and in most games in Sydney we played in front of crowds around 1,200 people. This entire year, starting in the Czech, moving to the coast, and then finishing up in Australia, I was probably playing some of the best hockey I have in a long time. I tore up the score sheet down in Aussie and ended up with the tournament MVP for my year in 2011/12. The individual record was nice, but the most important thing is that our USA team ended up beating the Canadian team for the cup championship (kind of like a rematch of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver).

 The country itself is also unlike anything you will experience. I remember getting off the plane and going to our first player meeting with the cup officials. They said, "Don't touch the spiders, don't touch the snakes, be careful when swimming because of the crocs, but other than that, have fun!". If you can get over the fact that everything is trying to kill you, it is really an awesome time. The tournament hosts put us up in a beach house (so we were at the beach every day), they took us on tours around Sydney, jet boating by the Opera House, tours up and down the Central Coast and much more. They paid for all of our meals by just giving us cash to spend if we were out, or if we were just finishing up a game there would literally be about 20 delivered pizzas and tons of beer ready for us. The cup itself ran about 30 days and we played 9 games in that time - which was a game every few days. This was probably one of the best tournaments I have ever had a chance to be apart of and I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in going down to Australia. I have also helped a ton of friends get set up with going down there and I know all of them have had the times of their lives.

You took some time off from hockey to get married and what can you say about your better half?

I didn't actually take any time off playing hockey. I just took some time off playing overseas. The year we got married I had lined up a contract to play in Belgium but we thought it would be too hard to do wedding planning and look at venues from overseas. I stayed mostly local and played out of Las Vegas in the MWHL. My wife is actually quite the hockey player. She usually plays in pick up games and local leagues with guys and makes some of them look silly. We met on the ice, got engaged on the ice, and got married on the ice. Sorry, that last part isn't true and actually we got married sort of close to the beach, but we did have a ceremonial puck drop (where other couples pour sand, light candles, or do that weird knot tying thing). We are usually on the ice together 5 to 6 days a week and I don't imagine that will change much once we have kids. I think it's worked out pretty well for us because most married couples can't really take their anger out on each other. We get to at least go out on the ice and throw our bodies around - well, she does at least.

You played in Sweden for 3rd division club Stomstad Lions and then played in South Africa. While in South Africa you started a program called Hoockey4All. Why did you start this program and who does it benefit?

The year after Australia (2012/13) my wife and I had planned to get married, so we stayed local in the USA and I played in Las Vegas in the Mountain West Hockey League (MWHL), a semi pro league, that spanned across California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Colorado.

The following year (2013/14) it was the first time my wife and I got to travel together and play hockey. We played in Sweden and got to do a lot of traveling throughout Scandinavia and back to the Czech Republic. The season in Strömstad went really well and we moved up to the next division for playoffs. Swedish people are so nice and the country is so beautiful (you just have to like to like the cold and white scenery).

At this point I realized that I had now played hockey on 4 continents and that I should try for my 5th. I was in touch with the team captain for the Cape Town Penguins a few years ago, and once our season in Sweden was coming to an end, I made contact with him again to see if we could make it down to South Africa. South Africa definitely has the best hockey in Africa and I was super excited to get down there. We met some great friends down in Cape Town and go to do some pretty cool things besides hockey, like great white shark diving, a typical African safari and a hike to the top of Table Top Mountain. We spent the season in Cape Town, about 6 months, and got to play most of the WPIHL season.

While down in South Africa we saw quite a bit of poverty throughout the Townships. We thought about how we could help  some of these people, and the only real thing we knew a lot about was hockey and ice skating. Hockey4all came around by giving everyone the opportunity to skate or play hockey. We ran our inaugural event in Cape Town where we took a group of kids from an orphanage that had been directly effected by AIDS out ice skating. A lot of these kids came from the poorest areas and many of them had never seen an ice rink or been on ice before. It was so amazing being able to help these kids and give them an opportunity to try something different, even if it was just a for a day. Afterwards the ladies who worked there said it was probably the best time a lot of the kids had ever had and they wrote an amazing testimonial for us.

After South Africa you played in Spain for CH Majadahonda this was at a time that the people of Catalonia were voting for Independence from Spain. What was the hockey like and what was mood like towards Independence from. Spain?

Hockey was pretty good in Spain, actually. A lot of the national team players play in their National League and their national team plays in Div. 2A Worlds. Each team can have up to 5 import players and these players are usually from other hockey nations (Sweden, USA, Canada, Czech, etc.) and they raise the level of play quite a bit. I played in Madrid and lived in the heart of the city. It was the first time I've ever really lived in a downtown-type district so it was different and quite fun. Since I lived and played out of Madrid they didn't really support the Catalonia independence. It was kind of the same way most Americans see Texas and how a lot of Texans always talk about being an independent sovereign nation - I don't think it'll ever happen, but people are always talking about it. I spent some time playing in Barcelona and I got to see first hand how different the Catalonia's are - from their language dialects, to what they eat, to their own Catalonia flag, and much more. I think it's important (wherever you are in the world) to value your cultures and understand what makes you and your country/region different.

Last month you played in the Cope Invnada 2015 3x3 Tournament in Chile with the Falkland Islands. How did you get hooked up with Falkland Islands?

Going to Chile and South America was my last continent and I would become the youngest person to ever have played on 6 continents. The tournament in Chile ran about 5 days long and I planned to visit for about 2 weeks. I had actually known about the cup before and was trying to get set up with a team down there. The local team actually told me that they were good and didn't need me to play for their team (they are probably regretting that now - just kidding guys!) so I had to ask the other teams that were competing if I could play for any of them. I eventually heard from Grant, captain of the Falkland Islands and he said he would gladly have me play. I find myself to be pretty worldly and I actually had no idea who or what the Falkland Islands were. I would later find out that they have become the smallest nation (with just about 3,000 people) to play ice hockey, this was the first time they have ever played ice hockey, we went undefeated, and I had played hockey on all the continents - it was a week full of records! The town of Punta Arenas (where the cup was hosted), was fairly small, and there wasn't much to do except go out and play hockey - sounds perfect eh? When I was trying to figure out where to go in South America, it was between Chile, Argentina and Brazil, but I was so glad that I decided to go to Chile. I met so many great people there, got to play some fun hockey and win the cup! I also got the chance to do a bit of coaching and helping the local kids get into hockey. This also led to another hockey4all launch and I am currently in the process of trying to get gear sent down for the kids in Chile to help promote the sport and get kids into playing the sport.

You also work for Greenrope business markting software how have they supported you threw out your journey around the world?

My team at GreenRope have been amazing. I think since most of them travel, they understand the importance of traveling and experiencing new cultures. At GreenRope I am the Creative Director, so I am in charge of making sure all of our marketing and branding designs are top-notch, I run our website, I do Creative work for clients, help develop and maintain our UI/UX, and do quite a bit more - a man of many hats you may say. I have been lucky enough to be able to work from home, which allows me to work as I travel and play hockey. It's also good for business and branding in meeting new people everywhere I go and spreading our business name around the world. I can talk about my work, what our company does, and how it might be able to work for some of the people I meet along the way. We also have clients and users all around the world, and so far I have been able to meet up with a lot of users anytime I am in any country where we might have users. Besides the hockey and traveling I do my work, go to conferences and try to network as best as I can.

You have played with many players and teams who in you mind is the best player and team that you played with? 

I think the best player I have played with in terms of skill level would be CJ Ruhwedel since he has spent the most time in the NHL. I have played with some other players that are really notable as well, guys like Thatcher Demko (drafted to Vancouver), Zach Pochiro (drafted to St. Louis), Philip Sandberg (Allsvenskan/SuperElit), and Jon Blum (Minnesota). Every team had so many good times, so I can't really pick out one team that was the best to play on or most fun. Every team I have played on I have made some amazing friends that I am still in contact with today. As cheesy as it is, every team and every player I have had the chance to play with has been the best.

Of all your travels what was the weirdest thing you saw on the ice or off it?

Oh man! Is there a character limit on this article? I've played hockey for 21 years now, and I have seen it all I think. One of the worst things I've seen is a guy getting a slap shot right up into the mouth - I think after-wards they said he lost something like 20 of his 32 teeth, plus he had to get 4 or 5 reconstructive surgeries. In South Africa I had to help push a Zamboni off the ice that broke down during an Allstar game. Once during a practice, I took a slap shot, missed the net, and the puck went through the boards - not hit the boards, but literally went through the boards like you would see in a cartoon with a perfect little puck sized hole. While playing in Barcelona in the Spainish National league, someone flipped up the puck, it hit the roof, and about 10-12 pieces of the roof fell down which stopped the game for a good 45 minutes (you'd think they'd pay Messi a little less and take better care of their ice rink...yeah right!). Most recently in Chile, two corners of the rink were missing ice, so if you would wrap the puck around the boards sometimes the puck would disappear into a hole/missing section of ice, and they'd have to halt play. One of the craziest things I've seen off the ice was during U18 hockey when a teammate was upset after a bad loss, he came into the locker room, threw his jersey at the wall across the room (about 20 feet), and somehow it perfectly opened up and landed on his hanger with his name displaying (like you would see your jersey hanging up before a game). I had a coach once that was pissed at our players between periods, he came into the locker room and threw a yellow gatorade bottle at one of our guys, it exploded and covered him in yellow Gatorade - the other team and our fans were super confused as to who the guy in the yellow jersey was during the 3rd period. Here in San Diego I once drove by a Zamboni on the road that was headed from one of our ice rinks to the other one down the road a bit. Once during a practice I took a shot and the puck hit the post (typical of one of my shots) and it broke into 3 parts - I still have the puck in storage somewhere for my trophy case one day. During a Halloween skate once, my buddy carved a helmet out of a pumpkin and wore that instead of an actual bucket. I was actually at a skate a few weeks ago and a guy (no joke) skated right out of his cup - apparently it fell out or something ripped, but there was just a cup sitting there are at center ice. In one of our MWHL games when I played with the Skates we were hosting our rivals from Aspen - one of our fans was tired of our visitors, went behind their bench, and dunked nachos all over one of their players (another player that went from having a white to yellow jersey). One of our games in Idaho once was getting so out of control that the local police department was called in to make sure we could get undressed and to our team bus safely. Me and 3 teammates had to carpool out to Vegas once from San Diego (about 4.5 hours), and we had to fit 4 hockey bags, 8 sticks and 4 players into a Ford Focus - I think people thought we were clowns on the way to the circus. In Australia we did a hockey demo once on an ice rink built right on a beach in New South Whales - probably one of the few times anyone has played ice hockey on a beach before. While playing in the Czech, a ref made a bad call once, I looked up to see an entire section of the crowd mooning the ref - it wasn't uncommon to also throw paper airplanes out on the ice. Our team photographer in New Zealand once dressed up like a storm trooper and was taking pictures of us - that was a weird sight. These are just a few, and I'm sure I've forgot about some, but you get the gist.

You have now played on all the continents, so what is next for you?

Keep playing hockey! Call me crazy, but I am working on figuring out a way to play hockey on Antarctica. At the moment, I'm also trying to figure out where I will end up next season and where we will be playing hockey next.

After you are done playing hockey what do you think you will be doing coaching, player agent or something different?

I already do quite a bit in the hockey world, and although it's not something I make a living from, I really enjoy coaching, helping guys find places to play overseas, our NPO (hockey4all), and anything that has to do with hockey. I also don't think I will ever truly be done playing hockey. I'll be that 78 year old out there on the ice head down, digging in hard, and not really going anywhere. I am positive I will be around hockey until the day I die.

What advice would give anyone that would like to play ice hockey on all continents?

I think this applies not just for people wanting to travel and play, but for everyone: just set your goals, figure out what you want to do and make it happen - it's that easy. If you can dream it you can live it. For me the last few years it has been all about playing hockey and traveling. I know that pro hockey is pretty much over for me, but if I can keep traveling, helping people get overseas or playing where they want, coaching, and just being around hockey - I will be a happy a man.

Thanks! If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me at ryanbahl@yahoo.com or Skype RyanBahl.
 

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