#NCDCCommitments: South Shore Kings Goaltender Keyes Commits To Merrimack College

By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com 


The playoffs can be very fruitful for many players, most especially for those lifting a trophy at the end. 

For South Shore Kings goaltender Ryan Keyes, it was extremely productive in another way, as he earned himself an NCAA Division I college commitment during the past week, following the Kings’ New England Championship series win against the Islanders Hockey Club. 

“The process with Merrimack happened really fast. They reached out to me after our series against the Islanders Hockey Club and expressed their interest,” said Keyes, an ‘03 out of Fairbanks, Alaska. “Then from there, I talked to my family and coaches and decided that it was the right fit for me. In the end it was an easy decision.

“In regards to the hockey, Merrimack is a very competitive program in one of the best conferences in college hockey which is really exciting. Then they also provide a great education which sets me up for when I am eventually done playing. I have played in their rink previously but have not made my way to campus yet. I’m hoping to go visit very soon,” said Keyes. “I am planning on going into their business school and pursuing a finance path.”

He’s excited at the prospect of skating onto the ice as an NCAA Division I player, and will do what he can to become a regular.

“I really want to keep developing my skating and ability to read the play/situations which I think will help me make the transition into college hockey,” Keyes said.  

The goaltender that Merrimack is getting has been one of the NCDC’s best the past three seasons since joining the league in 2021-22. He’s gone 44-18-0-3 in three regular seasons, playing 72 games, one behind the Bentley University recruit he’ll be facing in the New England vs. Atlantic Championship Series – P.A.L.’s Nick Bevilacqua. So far in this 2024 postseason, Keyes (rhymes with “eyes”) has gone 5-0 with a 1.47 goals against average and a .954 save percentage, helping the Kings to sweep their first two rounds against Utica and IHC. 

“My game feels good right now. I feel like I’m playing composed and within myself. Our team is playing great right now which gives me a lot of confidence and lets me play my game,” added Keyes.  

Keyes got his USPHL start with the Rockets Hockey Club’s 16U program, with whom he played from 2018 through 2020, including winning the USPHL 16U National Championship that year. 

After originally starting his Tier II career in his hometown in 2020-21, Keyes made his way to the Lower 48 in 2021-22 with the former Philadelphia Hockey Club franchise, before playing the full 2022-23 campaign with the Mercer Chiefs, with whom he went 10-6-0-2 with a .914 save percentage. 

This year, his only season with the Kings, he’s certainly enjoyed working with the staff, especially Head Coach Tyler Holske, a former collegiate and pro goalie himself. 

“I can’t say enough positive things about the Kings organization. It is run so professionally with a great coaching staff in Coach Holske and Coach [Jon] Skarlis helping us get better every single day. They also provide top tier workouts through EPS with Owen Campbell and a great goalie coach in Clay Adams at Stop It Goaltending,” added Keyes. “My decision to come to Kings came down to knowing they were an organization that provides a lot for their players and does a great job helping them move on to the next level.” 

With three years under his blades in the NCDC, he’s certainly a great spokesman for how the Tier II league helps players make their college dreams come true. 

“The NCDC does a great job getting their players exposure through the showcase events and being located in the Northeast where there is a lot of college hockey,” said Keyes. 

He hopes to be able to come out of this month with a new title: NCDC champion. They have to win two more series to accomplish this, but Keyes is locked in and ready to win as much as he can. 

“The best word for it would be excitement. This is something our team has been working towards all season and now we are getting to play playoff hockey and are having a lot of fun doing it,” Keyes said. 

The NCDC congratulates Ryan Keyes, his family, the South Shore Kings and Merrimack College for his commitment.