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Branham adds experience to Laker defense

Junior defenseman Ryan Branham

Feb. 4, 2003

By LINDSEY MECHALIK, LSSU Sports Information Intern

As one of only three juniors on the Lake Superior State hockey team, Ryan Branham brings maturity and knowledge to a young team. As an assistant captain along with sophomore Bo Cheesman, Brahman helps guide the Lakers under captain Jeremy Bachusz's leadership.

"I don't feel like I have really changed after being named assistant captain," said Branham about the pressures of the title. "I have kept the same work ethic and still play the same way. I feel like I am a better player from last season and that I keep improving."

Last season Branham assisted on three goals while appearing in 29 games. At the end of the season, he was named the team's most improved player. Branham has played in all 26 of the Lakers' games this season. He scored his first goal as a Laker during the 6-1 loss to St. Lawrence on Dec. 13. Branham has also assisted on goals scored by Bachusz and Cheesman.

Branham is the only junior defenseman on this year's squad. He and sophomore Ryan Reid are the only two veterans to the position, and they help the new freshman defense to learn the ways of college hockey.

"I have to make sure that I am ready to play every night in order to be an example along with Ryan Reid," he said. "I try to play as consistently as possible every game, and help the younger guys out either by giving them pointers or showing them defensively where they are supposed to be."

Branham began his hockey career at age six. His reason for starting was simply because his friends asked him to play. Branham played Midget AAA hockey in Vail, Colo. He graduated from Battle Mountain High School (Colo.) in 1997. In addition to hockey, Branham also participated in soccer and track.

Before attending Lake Superior State, Branham played the 1999-00 season for the Soo Indians Junior A hockey team. During that season, he was named to the North American Hockey League's All Star Team. He appeared in 67 games and had 10 points with 122 penalty minutes. For the first two months Branham played for the Indians, he played forward.

"When I first started with the Indians I had to play forward," he said. "When someone on defense got hurt and a spot opened up I got to move back. I was relieved because I am a lot better at defense."

Prior to playing for the Indians, Branham played for a variety of Junior A hockey teams including Billings (AWHL) and Rochester, Minn. (MJHL). His younger brother Tim, 21, bypassed college hockey and went to the Johnstown Chiefs in the East Coast Hockey League. Ryan and Tim were teammates as midgets and juniors. They both played for the Soo Indians during in 1999-00. Branham has two older sisters, Jessica, 26, and Shelly, 24. He is the son of Allen and Debbie Branham.

While he is not playing hockey, Branham enjoys playing the guitar and hanging out with his dog, Dimitri. Last summer, Branham worked as a cook at the White Spruce Inn in his hometown of Eagle River, Wis.

"I really liked learning to cook," he said. "It's great to know how for my own personal life."

In the future, Branham looks forward to graduating from Lake Superior State with a degree in business and marketing. He would like to one day open his own business and play professional hockey.

Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey
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