December 20, 2012

Women's Journal: Former Husky Rylan embraces new grind

By Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

Dani Rylan helped Northeastern win the Beanpot in 2012. (Photo by Jim Pierce)

It’s 6:15 p.m. Former Northeastern University women’s hockey player Dani Rylan has been at work for just about 14 hours, but she sounds as enthusiastic as ever.

“I’ve been here since 4:30am,” she explains, the till of a reconciling cash register ringing in the background. “And I have a hockey game at 8:30 tonight. It’ll be my first hockey game since opening the shop. I don’t think my teammates will like my backcheck tonight.”

“The shop” Rylan speaks of is Rise and Grind, a coffee shop she opened Dec. 17 in East Harlem, New York. The former forward for the Huskies found herself in the coffee business unexpectedly just months after graduating from Northeastern. The former reporter had one of her dream opportunities working for NHL Network placed on hold because of the pesky lockout and found herself looking for work.

“I had moved to New York City to work for the NHL Network,” she said. “My brother lives in New York City too, working as a coffee distributor. He had a storefront he wasn’t using, so we worked out a business deal. I got the storefront and a coffee distributor and opened up a shop.”

But unlike her hockey playing days, running coffee shop ownership is not exactly a team effort. “I am a one-man band,” Rylan laughed. “I can’t afford to hire anyone else until I pay off my business loans, so it’s just me.”

Rylan isn’t just running the shop solo – she renovated the 200 square-foot space by herself as well.

“My friend designed the shop, but I had to do all of the renovation work. I ended up laying tile and all of that,” Ryan said. “I compared (the renovations) to preseason. I was pulling twenty hour days to get the shop ready. It was just like working incredibly hard in the preseason with the hope that it pays off during the season. I feel the same way about this.”

It may seem like Rylan is up against incredible odds, but odds have never stopped her before. Rylan played undergraduate hockey on the men’s ACHA club team at Metro State in Colorado after playing high school hockey with Assabet Valley and and ISL’s St. Mark’s. When it was time for graduate school, she found herself in the sports leadership program at Northeastern, which allowed her two years to play for the Huskies.

Despite the brief length of her tenure, she made an impact. She tallied six goals and 14 assists in 70 games. Rylan was named a tri-captain for 2011-12 and had assists on game-winners in some of the biggest games of the year, including Northeastern’s Beanpot championship.

“The Beanpot championship allowed us to be rock stars on campus for a little bit,” recalls Rylan. “We were wearing our 2012 Beanpot championship gear around campus for a few weeks.”

One of those pieces of Beanpot memorabilia has made it into Rise and Grind.

“I donate five cents of each cup of coffee I sell to Ice Hockey in Harlem,” explained Rylan. “I physically put the five cents in a stainless steel style mug we all got that says 2012 Beanpot champions on it. I keep it next to the register. It’s not a lot of money, but I hope it makes a difference.”

Even though she finds herself practically living at the shop, Rylan finds the time to keep up with this season’s Northeastern squad.

“I talk to a lot of them still, and I keep up on GoNU,” she said. “I just loved being on the team. I think they all got sick of my telling them how much I loved them all when I was captain.”

Rylan considers this week her shop’s soft opening “to get the kinks out,” but will have her grand opening on Jan. 2. It was not exactly what she had in mind when she thought of life after college hockey, but it’s turning out to be something that excites her as much as hockey – and that’s not her coffee talking.

“My brother came by this afternoon when no one was in the shop and he caught me dancing behind the counter,” she laughed. “I told him I’m having fun! I wouldn’t be having as much fun if I were working for someone else’s coffee shop. It’s a lot more fun when you are doing things for yourself.”

Player of the Week

Nicole Bartlett (Methuen, Mass.), Union

The Lawrence Academy alumna scored the game winning goal in overtime to give Union a 4-3 win over the University of Maine last Friday evening. She added another goal during Saturday afternoon’s 3-2 matinee win. The goals were Bartlett’s first two goals of the season. The senior also has two assists on the season thus far.

Game of the Week

Dartmouth at Providence, Dec. 31, 2:00 p.m.

Should old acquaintance not be forgot in this New Year’s Eve afternoon matchup. Dartmouth’s associate head coach, Holley Tyng (East Orleans, Mass.), is a Providence alumna, and the Friars and Big Green will meet in an intersession game for the second year in a row. Last year, Dartmouth took a 3-2 win over Providence thanks to a Camille Dumais goal with under a minute and a half left in the game. Dumais is coming off an ECAC Player of the Week nod for scoring seven points in Dartmouth’s sweep of another Hockey East program, Maine. Providence last played Dec. 7 in a disappointing 8-1 loss to another ECAC team, Harvard.

Holiday Note of the Week

We would like to take a break from our usual Division III note of the week to give you a Holiday Note of the Week in its stead. The University of Vermont’s women’s hockey team isn’t just making vast improvements on the ice under first year head coach Jim Plumer. They are also taking strides in the world of viral videos. On Wednesday, the team released their version of Mariah Carey’s Christmas classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” It involves goalie choreography and a special appearance from Santa Claus....well, a Santa Claus that looks strangely like Plumer.

Power Rankings

1) Harvard (9-1-1 overall, 7-0-0 ECAC)

Harvard will come back from the break January 4th and 5th with ECAC matchups at Union and RPI. The Crimson will enter 2013 with a perfect 7-0 conference record this season. Jillian Dempsey (Winthrop, Mass.) heads into the holidays third in the nation in points per game with 2.27.

2) Boston College (11-3-2 overall, 8-2-1 Hockey East)

The Eagles’ next test will be January 3rd, when they travel to face another nationally ranked team in Clarkson. The game will see a matchup in two of the game’s best goal scorers this season: Golden Knights junior forward Jamie Lee Rattray and BC freshman Haley Skarupa.

3) Boston University (11-3-3 overall, 6-2-1 Hockey East)

The Terriers have the longest layoff of anyone in this top five. They next face Hockey East foe UConn on January 8th.

4) Quinnipiac (12-7-2 overall, 8-3-1 ECAC)

Quinnipiac coach Rick Seeley is pleased with the recent play of goalie Victoria Vigilanti. “She has been able to regain her confidence, and that has shown in her play.” Vigilanti has notched five straight wins in net. The Bobcats next face McGill in an exhibition on January 5th.

5) Northeastern (10-5-2 overall, 5-4-1 Hockey East)  

Northeastern will look to make up some ground in Hockey East when they come back from break. They will join the Eagles out in the Adirondacks of New York on January 3rd and 4th, when they face St. Lawrence and Clarkson in non-conference matchups.

Kat Hasenauer Cornetta can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at@sportsgirlkat.