CALGARY, AB -- John Ramage capped off his collegiate career in fine fashion.
Not only did the defenceman set new career-highs offensively with 8 goals and 20 points in 42 games, the University of Wisconsin alumnus led his team to the Final Five tournament where they captured the WCHA Championship.
"It was great," the former Badgers captain said of the victory. "Especially after the start to the season."
For Ramage, the championship is a symbol of overcoming adversity as the Badgers went through a tumultuous first half of the 2012-13 campaign. They went 5-7-5 in their first 17 games and had to make a transition to a new face behind the bench in November as assistant coach Bill Butters decided to leave the team.
"We had a rough start to the year," Ramage told CalgaryFlames.com. "To have come that far, it makes (winning the championship) really special.
"It made our team dig deep and look at ourselves in the mirror. We had a lot of things going on; we had a coach leave, one of our top freshmen suspended for NCAA reasons. We had a lot going on and to come back the way we did and accomplish what we did, it's pretty incredible."
The St. Louis, MO native signed a two-year entry level deal with the Flames on Apr. 18 and the 22 year-old is anxious to get the 2013-14 season underway. Drafted in the fourth round (103rd overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft, Ramage's four years in Wisconsin have allowed him to develop his game and mature physically, which will help him adapt to the pro ranks.
"The biggest thing, at Wisconsin, was that I got better every year," he explained. "I had a pretty big freshman year and the following two years, even though it doesn't show statistically, my overall game got better.
"I had a bit of a breakout senior season and I'm going to try and carry that confidence over into the pro game."
Spots on the blueline will be tough to come by in the fall; Tyler Wotherspoon, Chris Breen, Mark Cundari, and Patrick Sieloff have all signed entry level or two-way deals with the club this summer and NHL regulars Derek Smith, Kris Russell, TJ Brodie, Shane O'Brien, Mark Giordano and Dennis Wideman are all in the mix.
While his goal is to make the Flames roster out of training camp, his overall objective in the 2013-14 season is become a consistent, capable professional that can contribute to his team in a meaningful way.
"I need to transition to the pro game. It's different - you play 82 games and in college, you only play 36. You have to learn how to take care of your body. You have to make sure you're training properly, eating the right things, taking time to recover from injuries.
"I think that will be key to doing well in the pro game."
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