North Andover Scarlet Knights Boys Ice Hockey '07-'08

Brian Sifferlen, left, was a North Andover basketball standout while his son, Ryan, is proving unstoppable on the ice. » Roger Darrigrand, Staff Photographer

North Andover's Sifferlen a scoring machine

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Thursday, January, 10 By David Willis
Staff writer

North Andover's Ryan Sifferlen stands out like a sore thumb on the ice.

Maybe it's his impressive speed. Maybe it's his uncanny ability to score both around the net and from outside of the crease.

Or maybe it's his height. At a full 6-foot-2 | 6-foot-4 on skates | Sifferlen easily dwarfs most teammates and opponents.

"He's a tower," joked North Andover hockey coach Denis Barrette.

Away from the ice, any unknowing observer would peg the long and lanky athlete for a basketball player. But Sifferlen has emerged as a budding star on the ice. The Scarlet Knights center has scored an area-best 18 goals through 10 games this season.

In his younger days, however, Sifferlen was a full-fledged two-sport winter athlete.

"He was a very good basketball player," said his father, Brian Sifferlen. "He was a point guard. And I think (North Andover basketball) coach (Mike) McVeigh was a little disappointed he chose hockey."

Sifferlen began playing hockey at age three, after watching his cousin, future Scarlet Knights standout Billy Lynch, take to the ice.

"I think I had a knack for it early," said Ryan. "It was fun, and once I started to learn and get better, it started getting even more fun."

And in the fourth grade, he followed his father onto the hardwood.

"People will mention him," Ryan said of his father. "Some of his friends will tell me about how good he was in high school."

Brian Sifferlen was a standout guard for the Scarlet Knights for three seasons (1979-81). He was an Eagle-Tribune All-Star honorable mention his senior season (1981), and was named to the Greater Lawrence Christmas Tourney all-star first team in 1979 after helping lead North Andover to the tourney finals.

And Ryan followed suit. He excelled in basketball, especially after a growth spurt during middle school. He now has a few inches on his 5-foot-11 father, but not his uncles. Brian's brothers are all 6-foot-6 or taller.

"I wish I could have played both in high school," he said. "Some of my friends that played basketball tried hard to persuade me to play with them."

But once the time arrived his freshman season, he could not avoid his love for hockey.

"I finally made the decision when we got the papers to fill out to play a sport in high school," he remembered. "I looked at it and said, '(hockey) is what I want to do.' It was the sport I felt I liked better and it was that I wanted to do."

And his father had no issued with his choice.

"It was his own decision," said Brian, who works at Mellon Financial in Everett. "We let him make his own choices, and I think his cousin (Billy) had some persuasion."

And Sifferlen wasted no time making the decision look like a good one.

In his freshman season, playing on the same line as the cousin who was his inspiration, he scored five goals and added 13 assists, including two goals in his first varsity game.

"From my freshman year on I knew I picked the right sport," said Ryan. "I have always been about hockey. It has been great the whole time."

He took another big leap last season. He led the Scarlet Knights in goals (21) and assists (19) en route to CAL All-Star honors. His 40 total points were good for a tie for seventh in the Eagle-Tribune area.

And this season has been even better. As of Jan. 8, his 18 goals are five ahead of second-place Josh Frahm of Salem. He also leads the area in overall points (18-8|26), again over Frahm (13-11|24).

"He is already one of the best players in the Merrimack Valley," said Barrette. "He sees the ice well, he's a very good skater, which is deceiving. He's not a selfish player and he'll get bigger, which is good because he's a tall guy. Unlike many young hockey players, Sifferlen has not turned his back on other sports.

As a starting outfielder on the baseball team, Sifferlen hit .346 with 10 RBIs and 12 runs scored last year. He also started at midfield for the North Andover soccer team this fall. His brother Matt, a sophomore, plays on the Scarlet Knights JV basketball team.

"Both sports help a lot," he said. "In baseball, hand-eye coordination is crucial. And soccer helps with foot skills. If a puck gets caught in your skates, you have to get it to your stick somehow. And both keep me in shape."

But Barrette believes his future is bright in hockey. "It will be interesting to see what he does with the game," said the coach. "He is definitely a very talented player with a great attitude that will allow him to succeed."

3 Story Comments

0         mascohockey

ahem, masconomet kicks butt!!

Report! #1 01/14/2008 10:31 PM

0         koreanmom

I have taught PE for 25 years in NA and Ryan Sifferlan is the most gifted athlete I ever had. There wasn't a sport he didn't excel at. Keep in mind I taught Steve Heinze,Rob Konrad and Zak DeOssie. To top it off, Ryan is one of the nicest young men I have ever known.

Report! #2 01/19/2008 09:29 AM

0         hockey1928

This kid is an absolute dangler

Report! #3 02/12/2008 08:22 PM