One historic season came to an end on Sunday before the Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Nashville Predators. Western Michigan University reached its first regional semifinal before falling to the University of Minnesota, 3-0.
Ronnie Attard nearly tied the game for WMU just after the midway point of regulation, but the goal was offsides.
Following the shutout loss, WMU has a lot of pride. Finishing their season with a 26-12-1 record, they earned a top seed. WMU won their first NCAA Tournament game in program history, 2-1, defeating Northeastern.
In sync with program history, Attard also had his best collegiate season. He’s an alternate captain on the first WMU Men’s Hockey team to win an NCAA Tournament game. His 36 points (13G, 23A) rank second-most in the NCAA by a defenseman in 2021-2022. Attard made the NCAA Northeast Regional Team with names like Jackson LaCombe and Matthew Knies; both opponents to Attard in the 3-0 elimination loss.
Attard is likely the next prospect to sign an entry-level contract with the Flyers. He kept asking himself, “is this really happening?” It did, and the time is approaching to make a debut. A third-round pick in 2019, Chuck Fletcher should show faith in Attard by allowing him to spread his wings during this lost season. He could play a critical role in stabilizing the defense moving forward.
Attard balances the scales in terms of defensive makeup. Towards the end of 2020-2021, that was Fletcher’s plan. He wanted to revamp the makeup of the defense. The decisions made in the offseason didn’t support his thesis, however. Currently, the Philadelphia Flyers are the worst offenders at keeping the puck out of their net.
Keith Yandle, Nick Seeler, and Kevin Connauton will not be around next season. Cam York will take the space Yandle occupies. Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen take up the rest of the slots on the right side. If Attard makes the right impression, he could slot next to York on the third pair.
He’ll complement York. York will take the responsibility off of Attard to jump deep into a rush, but if necessary, Attard is an aggressive rover. He also is exceptional at disrupting passing lanes and shooting lanes in the DZ.
On special teams, Attard is an asset. He’s featured on the top powerplay and top penalty kill units while at Western Michigan University.
His hockey idol is Nicklas Lidstrom, who spent twenty seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. His favorite musician is Kendrick Lamar. Is the loyalty in his DNA akin to Lidstrom’s? Soon, his NHL story could begin in Philadelphia. Attard is an intelligent skater, a critical prospect from the NHL’s thirteenth-ranked farm system.
(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)