Ryan Hamilton began his hockey career playing with the Burnaby Bulldogs of the BCHL. Hamilton made his major junior hockey debut during the 2001-02 season, as he played 10 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. During the 2002-03 season, Hamilton was transferred to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. Hamilton became one of the few players to have played for two of the major junior hockey leagues in Canada.
On July 5, 2006, Hamilton was signed to a minor league contract by the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. During the 2007-08 season, Hamilton ranked second in total points and goals on the Aeros roster with 39 and 20 respectively.