Can a SoCal boy from Long Beach Poly chill out and cash in north of the border?
Want to make your little boy tough enough for the Sunday hockey game on TV? Well Pam Ramsey, proud mother of Manitoba Moose Canadian Hockey League player Travis Ramsey, has her formula. First, her house is loaded with ladies—daughters and daughters' gal pals, visits from her mom Pat West of LBSU lore, and pictures of this strapping lad with the handsome face and tough-guy job description. Last weekend, and this coming weekend, his game will be on NHL TV.
Pam and her realtor husband Taylor had three kids, two girls (Allyson and Megan) and Travis. Trav is the youngest. The aunts are many. Grandma Pat and her late husband Jim had five girls and one boy. His sisters are also loaded with ladies, Allyson and her husband Walter have twin girls and a boy, Megan and her husband Charnol have two girls. Grow up in that demographic and you have to fight for both breakfast and the bathroom.
The Travis Ramsey story begins like that of a zillion other kids of his generation, playing a little bit of whatever was in season. For Southern California, you add water polo to basketball and, between seasons, a little roller hockey. He went to that sports factory known as Long Beach Poly, but this time the basketball coaches let Trav make his own decision and he picked the puck. His dad Taylor continues the story of his early years.
“Trav started very, very late in ice hockey," Taylor says. "He was a roller hockey player, but had no clue about ice. He played roller hockey and was on one of the top teams in the country for his age group for years and we traveled all over the U.S. and Canada. At age 13 he tried ice hockey and fell in love. After being an All-League water polo goalie and playing basketball at Long Beach Poly his coaches at school told him to make a decision. He chose hockey. He went to a lower-ranked junior league and played in Montana and left high school in his senior year. The principal at Poly made it easier by telling Trav he could come home and graduate with his buddies.” And he did.
And young Mr. Ramsey (his nickname is Rammer) was ready to start a new life in a sport that, other than the Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings, is almost unknown in many Long Beach neighborhoods. From 2003 he was a wandering teen in minor leagues populated largely by older Canadians. From 2003 until he took a scholarship to the University of Maine in 2005, Travis studied his sport and found his niche—defense.
Since he wrapped up his Black Bear career with a slew of honors—academic and athletic—in 2008, Travis has been playing for pay, although, as is in the case of minor leaguers in baseball, basketball and football, these aren’t the monster contracts that the top line NHL stars earn but a really fine payday. His pro home is in Winnipeg, the capitol city of Manitoba, where the Moose are the top affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. The home ice for the Moose is the 15,000-seat MTS Center which also books concerts (U-2 is next) and all sorts of shows and exhibitions around the hockey games.
Ramsey’s job is defender, of his goalie and the team’s sharp shooters. His dad comes back on line with details. “Trav is out to shut guys down so many times his ice time is based on who the other team puts on the ice. Defensemen are supposed to win the fights along the boards for the puck and make spot on outlet passes... and protect your goalie. Most scuffles he gets into are when you come too close to his goalie. He will go crazy protecting his goalie. He will also go nuts if you hurt one of the smaller guys or his highly skilled sharp shooters... the guys with good hands. Travis is a defenseman. He gets his points, but he is considered a defensive defenseman. His specialty is shutting down the other guys. That is why he is on the ice so much when the Moose are killing penalties."
For now Travis is one of so many guys who sit by the phone waiting for a call up to the “big club.” He is now 27 in a pro sport where owners are constantly shuffling their options between youth and experience. Like basketball and volleyball and water polo, hockey players have the option of going to Europe (where the money is very good) or move to another team. Last year, Ramsey was a virtual ironman and won the teams 'hardest working' award. Another plus, he’s considered a leader in the locker room which makes management really happy. The Moose will be playing again this Sunday on the NHL network at 12:30 pm PST (stats and stuff at moosehockey.com).