|Photo courtesy of Youngstown Phantoms|
In December I had the privilege of interviewing his Youngstown teammate Ty Loney, a Valencia, PA native and son of former Penguin Troy Loney. Shortly after that interview hit the front page, a reader on Pensburgh's Facebook page suggested I take a look at another Phantoms player and Pittsburgh-area native. It took a little time, but I was more than happy to oblige. Feel free to take a similar approach if you feel so inclined.
With the hockey circuit in and around Pittsburgh picking up steam over the past decade or so, there's always a possibility that any one of these up-and-coming players will make a name for themselves on the professional levels.
As part of a recurring series of features here on Pensburgh, today we're going to take a look at another standout from the Pittsburgh area; Dylan Margonari of the Youngstown Phantoms.
One glance at Dylan Margonari’s resume and it’s more than obvious the guy loves hockey. The 18-year-old’s opportunities with teams on every level have come through continuous hard work on the ice, made possible by his willingness and desire to play for anyone with a roster spot. And sometimes, that means going outside the so-called comfort zone of high school programs.
"I really never played high school hockey," the Greensburg, Pennsylvania native said. "At my high school, we were good maybe ten years before, we had a few championships, but when I was there they were just God awful."
If hockey wasn’t going to make itself readily available in local schools, then Dylan was going to find it on his own. He started playing for a number of local teams before joining the Pittsburgh Hornets for four seasons as a member of the U16 club. He then went on to the Youngstown Phantoms for a season, back to the Hornets and finally back to the Phantoms once again, where he remains alongside former Hornet teammate Ty Loney. In 2012, the guy who more recently compares his playing style to the Penguins’ own Jordan Staal will tip off his college career at Minnesota State University – Mankato.
"I’ve always loved the game," said Margonari. "Ever since I’ve been playing with the Hornets I’ve always loved [the idea of] playing juniors, getting a college scholarship and hopefully moving on to pro."
Dylan prides himself on a strong work ethic, whether it’s spent in the weight room or on the ice. Over the years, he’s been able to pick up a number of tricks of the trade while playing for all different teams, but says the Phantoms give him the best opportunity to work on his skill set, particular in the area of speed and defense. It’s something that obviously caught the eye of coaches at Minnesota State University – Mankato, where Dylan will kick off his college career in 2012.
"I’ve always wanted to play in Hockey East or the WCHA," said Margonari. "I feel those are the two best leagues throughout college hockey."
While no plans are in place for the upcoming NHL Draft, Margonari is focused on both hockey and his degree on the college circuit.
"I definitely want to do something in either marketing or sports management. I haven’t narrowed it down yet, but I have another year to think about that."
For the life-long Penguins fan, the love for hockey took hold at a young age and continues to pave the way for his education. Margonari’s two-way style of play makes him a reliable piece on the penalty kill and a potential threat on offense.
"Jaromir Jagr was my favorite player growing up. I had a mullet just like him, idolized him. I loved the Pens. Still do."
Sadly, despite his high aspirations for college hockey, there’s zero chance of him growing his hair out and embracing the power of the mullet once again.
"I don’t think so," he said with a laugh. "I kind of grew out of it."
That right there may be the only eternal flaw in his ever-developing game.