The New Jersey Titans are proud to announce that defenseman Ryan Wheeler has committed to play Division I hockey at the University of Connecticut for the 2018-2019 season.
Wheeler—a Lancaster, N.Y. native—is in his second season with the Titans. In 107 career games, he has recorded 12 goals and 48 assists for 60 points.
“We couldn’t be more proud of and happy for Ryan and the entire Wheeler family. Ryan was one of the first players we identified as coaches that we wanted to build our team around,” said Titans head coach Craig Doremus. “He’s a terrific hockey player who fits the prototype when it comes to college hockey defensemen. He has worked at his craft to improve his game to the Division I standard.”
In addition to being a dynamic puck-moving defenseman, Wheeler has also set an example for the team off the ice. In the 2016-2017 season, he was given the NAHL East Division Community Service Award for touring various schools in the local area as part of the Titans’ anti-bullying program. As a result of his off-ice work, Wheeler has established himself as a fan-favorite in Middletown.
“Ryan has become a model billet brother for the Reed family and has gone above and beyond with his work as part of our anti-bullying program. He has never stepped away from doing a community service event and I believe it has helped him grow and mature, while helping his game on the ice as well,” Doremus added.
The UConn Huskies are part of the Division I Hockey East conference and is coached by Mike Cavanaugh. When talking about his commitment, Wheeler expressed his excitement on becoming a future Husky.
“It has always been a dream of mine to play Division I college hockey. To be able to play for UConn in the Hockey East conference and against some of the best players in college hockey is a dream come true,” he said. “I can’t thank my past and present teammates and coaches enough for helping me along the way.”
He also spoke about his development in the Titans’ organization, one that emphasizes a fast and attacking style of play. In his rookie year, Wheeler scored eight goals in the regular season and scored a memorable overtime goal in Game 4 against the Aston Rebels in the East Division final.
“On the ice, Craig and Bobby (DiRico) have done a great job teaching me little things that make a huge difference in my game, systems I had never played before, but also pushed me to be a presence in every game and practice,” he said. “Coming to the Titans last year I knew I would be challenged on the ice but, I never thought it would have such an immense impact on myself off the ice.”
When talking about his off-ice work and his anti-bullying efforts, Wheeler said it is something he plans to continue at the college level.
“With the help of Bonnie Wenzel we have done a tremendous job in the community and all of our players have been involved. Getting to participate on our Anti Bullying Team touring around to different schools and being a role model for kids has truly been a humbling experience, and it is something I’ll cherish forever,” he said.
The Titans organization would like to congratulate Ryan and his entire family as he prepares to advance his hockey career at the Division I collegiate level.