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Shoresy actor, former pro Ryan, 47, suits up and fights for ECHL Growlers

Terry Ryan Terry Ryan - Bell Media

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland (AP) — Former NHL player Terry Ryan celebrated his 47th birthday with a fist-flying return to professional hockey, dropping the gloves and fighting Sunday for the Newfoundland Growlers in the ECHL.

Playing professionally for the first time in 20 years, Ryan traded punches with the Adirondack Thunder’s Zach Walker, a 25-year-old former Boston College player who got the upper hand at the end after Ryan lost his balance.

Ryan fought Walker midway through the third period in the Growlers’ 6-2 loss, also drawing an instigator penalty.

“I wasn’t planning on fighting ... but I turn around and my teammate, my buddy’s got his helmet off,” Ryan said in a video posted by the Growlers. “What do I have to lose? I’m supposed to lose that fight like when I fought Tie Domi when I was 18.”

Ryan appears in the Canadian television comedy series “Shoresy” as Ted Hitchcock and has a popular hockey podcast. His book, “Tales of a First-Round Nothing: My Life as an NHL Footnote” was published in 2014.

He was at a bar — “I was probably five or six pints in,” Ryan recounted — celebrating his birthday late Saturday night when he got the call from the Growlers to join the short-handed squad.

“I still skate 4-5 times a week and I play a lot of ball hockey,” Ryan said. “I just figured if I had the cardio, at least a fraction of it, that I wouldn’t embarrass.”

Drafted eighth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1995, Ryan got on the ice for only eight NHL games over three seasons with the Habs. He sustained a serious ankle injury in 2001 and last played professionally for the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones in 2002-03.

“I was joking with the guys, ‘You get sent down for two weeks, but two decades is a little much,’” Ryan said.

His 13-year-old daughter watched him play for the first time Sunday.

“I didn’t want to embarrass them,” Ryan said. “Before the game she gave me an extra long hug.”