Ryan Botterill hasn't forgotten his roots on his way to a Division 1 NCAA commitment at the University of Wisconsin.

The Portage product has been playing with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL this season following a 45-goal campaign with the Portage Terriers in the 2022-23 season.

Botterill says he wouldn't be the same hockey player or person if it wasn't for his hometown.

"From skating on the backyard rink that my dad built every year to growing up around great people in the community and playing on the Terriers helped a lot," continued the 2003 born forward. "Portage was a very fun place to play for me. Blake Spiller did a really good job, and the staff in Portage helped me grow as a player and teammate."

File Photo.Ryan Botterill playing for the Youngstown Phantoms. (Anthony Moreton photography.) 

Botterill says while he has been a little bit homesick, he has been enjoying his time in the USHL for the Phantoms.

"I'm just working on developing my overall game, kind of getting better at everything, mainly working on my edges and skating right now, trying to get faster and become a better skater."

He notes that the game's speed is the main part of adjusting from the MJHL to the USHL.

"You just have to make quicker plays, and then you just got to be ready to battle every night. I might say the MJHL is a little bit more physical."

Once getting to Youngstown, Botteril explains that he had the opportunity to talk to a few Division 1 teams, going on a couple of visits through the process before deciding on the University of Wisconsin. 

While life moves fast, and he has been on the move, Botterill knows that the community of Portage is continuing to support him.

"It means a lot to me. It's awesome," says Botteril when the Portage community cheers him on. "I loved my time in Portage, and it's helped me here in Youngstown and  growing up in general."

When asked who he would like to thank for getting to this point, Botteril quickly named his sister Danika.

"She's pushed me very hard, and we're always battling on the outdoor rink, and she's been a really, really big part of my life and helped me a lot to get to where I am."

Wisconsin is known for its cheese and produces over 600 varieties of cheese. While Botterill will be looking to tickle the twine and go top-cheese over opposing goalie's shoulders at the Sub-Zero Ice Center in Wisconsin, he says he doesn't have a favourite type of cheese. 

"We'll have to find out on that one," chuckles Botterill.

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