Ryan Little inks professional contract with ECHL's Florida Everblades

Ryan Little lays a hit vs. Minnesota during the 2012-13 season. - Larry Radloff Photography

Wisconsin's two-time alternate captain will have an opportunity to prove his value as a professional with the Florida Everblades.

Former Badger Ryan Little signed his first professional contract on Tuesday when he agreed to terms with the Florida Everblades of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).

Little spent five seasons with the Badgers and was a two-time alternate captain during his final two years in Madison.

The Fond du Lac, Wis., native started his career at Wisconsin playing defense but switched to forward for his final three seasons in cardinal and white. Little, who graduated in May as a real estate and finance, investment and banking major, registered 14 goals and 34 points in his UW career, including a career high 11 points last season.

"Ryan is a gritty two-way forward, who can also play defense," Everblades head coach Gregg Poss said in a release. "He is a real character player, and we are excited to have him on board."

One of Wisconsin's all-time grittiest players, Little was a stalwart on the penalty kill for Mike Eaves' Badgers. Little was named given Wisconsin's Fenton Kelsey, Jr., Most Competitive Player Award after both his junior and senior seasons, and also won the Badgers’ Otto Breitenbach Most Improved Player Award after his sophomore season.

Little was also a four-time WCHA All-Academic Team and three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. He was also a WCHA Scholar Athlete in 2010 and a back-to-back (2012, 2013) winner of Wisconsin’s Ivan B. Williamson Scholastic Award, which is awarded to the men’s hockey player that best combines academic excellence with academic success.

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