Crosby leaves his mark on UND's Duncan
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - At age 17, Ryan Duncan was pulled into the coach's office and told to emulate his 15-year-old dormitory roommate. So Duncan watched and took notice. His Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school roommate went to bed early. He watched wh...
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - At age 17, Ryan Duncan was pulled into the coach's office and told to emulate his 15-year-old dormitory roommate.
So Duncan watched and took notice.
His Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school roommate went to bed early. He watched what he ate. He was conscientious of his image and never put himself in awkward positions.
"Sometimes, when you are in high school, you are not mature enough to notice things like that," Duncan said. "But after coach pulled me in his office, I realized that this kid was obviously something pretty special and I learned a lot from him."
The kid's name was Sidney Crosby.
Crosby has since gone on to be a No. 1 pick in the NHL draft, the youngest captain in league history and the most valuable player at age 21.
At UND, Duncan has carried himself much like his old roommate.
His accomplishments are numerous: He's a first-team All-American, a Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner and the country's active leader in career goals and points.
Off the ice, he takes care of his body and never puts himself in bad positions. Perhaps that's why Duncan is the captain of the team and has never missed a game in his college career (154 straight).
"He has accomplished so many great things here and he'll never tell you about any of them," coach Dave Hakstol said. "Some people are reserved and humble yet really like hearing about themselves. Honestly, Dunc doesn't need that. That's not what drives him. He's got an inner drive that's pretty unique."
Duncan said his drive for the sport can be traced back to his parents. He was involved with the game at an early age and has always loved it.
As he grew up, Duncan continually crossed paths with those destined for greatness.
His godparents are the parents of NHL all-star Dany Heatley.
One of his good friends is NHL All-Star Jonathan Toews.
And he still keeps up with Crosby, usually through text messages.
"He's a very down-to-earth person," Duncan said of Crosby. "He's exactly what you see in the media. He's been great ever since I roomed with him and that was a long time ago, so he doesn't have to be."
Those who have lived with Duncan say that he's also exactly what you see in the media: low key, easy going and reserved. They also say he is crazy about hockey.
When Duncan wakes up, he turns on an NHL highlight show. Then he goes to class, spends several hours in Ralph Engelstad Arena and comes home to watch NHL games on the Center Ice package.
Duncan has an attention to detail, too. Teammates say that you can name any player who Duncan has ever seen or played against and Duncan will be able to tell you which hand he uses to shoot.
"I'd agree with that," Duncan said. "I guess it's something that's just second nature. If I've seen a guy play, I could probably tell you."
Trying to pick up goalie tendencies is another hobby for Duncan.
"I think that's something you pick up as you get older and scoring becomes tougher," he said. "I think it works both ways, though. Goalies know where I want to shoot the puck. A lot of goaltending nowadays is positioning. Sometimes, they are guessing. Sometimes it's a mental game and you have to outsmart a goalie. It's the little games like that in hockey that make it so special."
The Grand Forks Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.