Photo courtesy of Youngstown Phantoms
It's no secret that Pittsburgh is quickly becoming a hotbed for hockey. Guys like Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone and Columbus' R.J. Umberger are just some of the more recent Pittsburgh-area players to make an impact on the NHL level.
As we continue take a look at the growing number of players on all levels of hockey in and around the Pittsburgh region, one has to wonder: Who's next?
Ty Loney, currently playing with the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms, gained some attention in 2008 when his Pine-Richland Rams went on to win a AAA high school championship.
Loney recently took a few minutes to talk with Pensburgh about his young hockey career.Ty Loney was just three months old when Mario Lemieux skated around the ice at Chicago Stadium with the Cup held high above his head following the Penguins' sweep of the Blackhawks for the franchise's second championship in 1992. While too young to remember the series, there's no denying that Ty was born into a championship family, as his father Troy was a member of both winning teams in the early '90s. Hockey was a part of his life right from the very start, and the championship vibes certainly influenced Ty's fandom at an early age.
The Valencia, Pennsylvania native grew up a die-hard Pens fan, watching his father play out the final four seasons of his career for the Penguins in 1992-93, inaugural Mighty Ducks team in 1993-94 and splitting time between the Rangers and Islanders in 94-95 before calling it a career. Troy, who was selected by the Penguins 52nd overall in the 1982 draft, played 10 of his 13 NHL seasons as a member of the Penguins where he amassed 69 goals and 100 assists over 530 games.
Loney is currently playing as a center for the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms. Although draft eligible in 2011, Ty isn't entirely sure if he's ready to follow in dad's footsteps. It goes without saying that any 18 or 19-year-old kid would be beside himself if taken by any of the 30 NHL teams, but Ty acknowledges the challenges that come with making it in the league and is keeping his options open.
"When I was younger it was like, 'Well my dad plays in the NHL I guess I'm going to be like him,' like it was that easy," said Loney. "But as you start getting older you start to realize how slim the chances really are."
USHL Alumn Drafted by NHL
2010 - 22 including 4 in the first and 5 in the second
2009 - 16 including 2 in the first, 2 in the second
"Right now I'm working on committing somewhere for college and hopefully get a scholarship," said Loney, who also aims to pursue a degree in either the sports medicine or marketing field if a career in hockey doesn't pan out. "Obviously to get drafted is a dream for a lot of kids, and it'd be fantastic if it happens, but that's not really my goal that I'm looking for right now."
On paper Loney would best be described as a two-way forward; more skilled on the offensive side of the puck and ever-improving in his own end. At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, if you picture the frame of Jordan Staal and combine it with the hockey I.Q. of Rick Nash, you can paint a pretty good picture of Loney's presence on the ice. To top it off, Loney's not afraid to drop the mitts either if the right situation calls for it, although a broken wrist sustained during a fight a few months back may have him more focused on letting his stick do the talking.
Over just 14 games, that seems to be the more productive course of action, as Loney has a team-high eight goals and another five assists for a total of 13 points, good enough for second on the team behind Czech Republic native Jiri Sekac's total of 15. Two of Loney's eight notches came on the man advantage as well, pitting him in a three-way tie with Cody Strang and Stuart Higgins for most power-play goals.
Two years ago during the 2009 NHL Draft, the Penguins showed they aren't opposed to "adopting" the offspring of some of the bigger names in team history. In that draft alone the Pens selected Philip Samuelsson, the son of former Stanley Cup-winning Penguins defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, and Andy Bathgate III, the grandson of the the franchise's very first goal scorer. Although speaking strictly in hypotheticals, Ty admitted he would be beside himself if he could follow in his father's footsteps in Pittsburgh.
"It would be amazing," said Loney. "Not many words to describe that. I'm sure I could ask my father about that and he could tell me the feeling [he had]."
Troy, who is currently working as a pharmaceutical manager in north Pittsburgh, is always ready and willing to give his son a few words of advice.
"He helps me a lot in hockey, he gives me a lot of good tips. It's probably one of the major points that we talk a lot about," said Ty.
And with good reason. Troy was an assistant coach to Ty and his older brother Reed during the 2008 season when the Pine-Richland Rams went on to win a AAA high school championship, beating Bethel Park by the final of 5-3. But it's not always about hockey for father and son, as the two keep a line open, whether on or off the ice.
"He doesn't get mad at me for doing bad things," laughed Loney. "He's just a really positive influence on me and I'm very grateful for it."