nl-ryan-terry-file

Terry Ryan: 'It's great to see as a player, and every year it gets a little bit better.' (CBC)

Canada's national men's ball hockey team is off to a strong start at the world championships in Slovakia, with a strong contingent of players from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Of the 25 players and eight staff travelling with the team to Bratislava, five are from this province, including Terry Ryan, a veteran player and proponent of the sport.

"It's quite exciting, and it's in a great city," said Ryan, a former Montreal Canadien and one of the team's members who has excelled in both ice and ball hockey.

Joining Ryan are players Pat O'Keefe, Donny Gosse and Chris Sparkes, as well as assistant coach Ian Moores.

Newfoundland and Labrador has excelled at ball hockey, taking the national championship last year with a team that included NHL players Teddy Purcell and Adam Pardy.

Ryan, who has played on teams that have won two world championships, told CBC News ball hockey is coming into its own.

"The sport has come a long way in the 15 years that it's been on the go at the world championships," he said in an interview from Bratislava. "It's great to see as a player, and every year it gets a little bit better."

By Wednesday afternoon, Canada's men's team was leading its pool, following a 13-2 win over Germany. Canada's women's team was also leading in its pool.

Ryan said the team arrived in Slovakia several days before the competition, to get used to both the larger playing surfaces as well as the pounding heat.

"It's 30 degrees out … It feels like you're playing in an oven. So, you got to drink a lot of water," said Ryan, adding that each player consumes between 10 and 12 litres of water each day.

The tour is not all competition. The team will also make short jaunts to nearby Vienna and Budapest, a perk that Ryan says comes with elite sports.

"It's great to travel as well. You get to see the world," he said.