Ryan Vanderwal has been a pillar of the Budget Beavers roller hockey team the last six years. Now the squad is set to start life without the Canadian in net.
After a disappointing loss in the Cherry Cup finals, Vanderwal has decided to move back to his native Ontario. The former Operations Supervisor at Budget car rental Grand Cayman left the island shortly after the team’s final match.
On Saturday Budget dropped the third and decisive game 8-6 to the Islanders at the Logic arena of Kings Sports Centre.
With the victory the Islanders claimed the Cup for the first time in its history. A tight series would see the Islanders win game one 10-7 and drop the second contest 5-4 in overtime. Budget and game two hero Chris Moser meanwhile are the last remaining team to not win the championship.
Vanderwal, 31, states the decision to leave Cayman was for family reasons.
“My grandpa died this month and my nephew and niece are three and I have yet to see them,” Vanderwal said. “I just need to be home with family as I haven’t seen any of them in six years.
“Budget understands and this Christmas has been challenging. I’m going to miss it (playing for the hockey team) dearly. Hockey was my passion here. I think I’m going to be a spokesman for roller hockey up in my native Peterborough, Ontario.
“I might even help get a roller hockey league going that uses roller skates as they only use roller blades now. Other than that my plans in Canada are to help my dad with his business, take some writing courses and take it from there.”
The loss of Vanderwal is huge for the Beavers. He has consistently been among the top goalies in local hockey.
This season he cemented that status by having the most saves (310) and second-highest save percentage (80 percent).
He was a big reason why the team overcame an underachieving defence that gave up a league-high 69 goals and a 4-5-1 regular season record (their first losing season ever) that saw them place third in the final standings.
His departure is also a huge blow for Cayman hockey in general. He was the starting net-minder for the Lone Star Barracudas in the Cayman Islands Ball Hockey League, which reached its mid-point ahead of the Christmas holidays. The Barracudas are 4-4-1 and a game out of first place in the standings. Vanderwal was also a youth hockey coach in the Logic Youth Roller Hockey League and served as a referee in various hockey competitions.
Ultimately Vanderwal states he has no regrets about having to leave the island at short notice.
“I have no regrets, it’s time to move on. It feels like the right time. Everything happens for a reason and the boys (on the Budget Beavers) will survive.
“I put in six years and a couple months here and Cayman is my second home.
“I’ll never forget it. I’ve had a wonderful life in Cayman and I owe everything to Budget and the Bodden family for allowing me to work with them.”