Red Knight alum writes hockey memoir

Published in 2020, Ryan Minkoff’s story is about his love of hockey and the life he had playing the game.


Photo Courtesy of Ryan Minkoff

BSM alum, Ryan Minkoff has just published his first book, a memoir entitled Thin Ice: A Hockey Journey from Unknown to Elite–and the Gift of a Lifetime.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s is known for being a Catholic college preparatory school with great teachers and smart, engaged students––but it is also known for its successful hockey program. Ryan Minkoff, a BSM alum, honor roll student, and Red Knight-Athlete Award winner, has just published his first book entitled Thin Ice: A Hockey Journey from Unknown to Elite––and the Gift of a Lifetime.

This coming-of-age memoir tells the story of Minkoff’s lifelong love of hockey, his experience playing junior varsity and varsity at BSM, and the hard work that it took for him to finally play club hockey at the University of Washington and professionally on a team in Finland. “I knew my story was pretty unique going from the youth and club level to playing professionally overseas, and I wanted to share it because I felt it could help others going through challenging times as they moved through the sport, and if they had the passion and perseverance, they could also keep playing at a high level,” Minkoff said.

Minkoff grew up playing hockey in Minnesota. His family had season tickets to the University of Minnesota Gopher hockey games since before he was born, so he was introduced to the sport at a young age. He started playing hockey at a local park in Rogers, Minnesota and began playing youth hockey at age four. As he grew older, he loved competing and being a part of a team. “I had a goal from a young age to try and play hockey in college. I never lost sight of that, so that really fueled me,” said Minkoff, who believes that Minnesota is the best place in the United States to grow up playing the sport because there are so many great coaches and impressive high school and college teams to watch.

I knew my story was pretty unique going from the youth and club level to playing professionally overseas, and I wanted to share it because I felt it could help others going through challenging times as they moved through the sport.

— Ryan Minkoff

He has stories in the book about living and playing professional hockey in Finland. Even though his time in Finland wasn’t exactly what he expected, he did everything he could to become part of the community on and off the ice. He was living by himself in an apartment that didn’t have heat, so he slept at the rink because it was warmer there. “There were plenty of times when I wanted to book a flight home from Finland. Times when it didn’t seem like any of this was worth it in order to play professional hockey,” Minkoff said.

Minkoff started writing his memoir before his senior year in college at the University of Washington, Seattle. It took him seven years to complete it and get it published. “I always enjoyed reading biographies. Reading them growing up impacted me and helped me learn and become inspired. I felt I could do that with my story,” Minkoff said.

According to Minkoff, the process of writing was tedious. “It started with just writing down all of your thoughts. I did that and had about 240 pages…Then it was refining, editing, and learning how to show and not just tell in my writing style. Seeking out advice and gathering feedback. I ended up re-writing the book twice. Editing took a few years and lots of time in coffee shops thinking and reminiscing,” Minkoff said.

Writing didn’t immediately come easily to him, but Minkoff gives a lot of credit to his English teachers at BSM who gave him a great foundation at learning how to write. However, he also said that all of the work he put into it was good for him. “[It] brought clarity to my life and helped me sort through difficult times that I experienced. The process was therapeutic,” Minkoff said.

Former BSM hockey player Ryan Minkoff’s memoir is about playing hockey. (Book Cover Courtesy of Lyons Press )

Minkoff has a lot of advice for young hockey players. “Play because you love to play. Work on your skating ability and watch a lot of games. Mentally, believe in yourself and don’t let anyone or anything sway you away from what you are trying to accomplish…Playing time and being in a program where you can make mistakes and keep playing is key to developing and progressing. It is also ok to struggle, as you will learn and grow during these times…As long as you keep your focus and eyes on your goals, you will reach them,” Minkoff said.

Other than writing, Minkoff is also the founder and owner of 83, a hockey agency representing players. He has clients from all over the world, including Minnesota. In 2019, he worked with players from fourteen different countries playing in eighteen different countries. Some of his clients play in the National Hockey League. He helps players reach their goals, get accepted by teams, and negotiate contracts with team general managers. He also advises them when they have questions about sponsorships. “[In the future,] I hope to work more closely with high school aged players to help them improve and also move up the ranks,” Minkoff said.