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Ryan played junior hockey for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League (MJAHL) and then joined the New Brunswick Varsity Reds and the St. Mary's Huskies of the CIS while earning his university degree.
He was an assistant coach of the Acadia Axemen from 2001 to 2003 and then took the head coaching job for the junior Antigonish Bulldogs for a season. In 2004 Ryan took over as the general manager and coach of the Weeks Crushers, a position that he held for five seasons.
From 2005 to 2009 Ryan was also heavily involved in coaching Team Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge, Team Nova Scotia at the Canada Games, and Team Atlantic at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge.