Long before he was a defenseman for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-17 squad, Ty Murchison was just another kid in California playing the sport on wheels.
Murchison, who grew up in Corona, California, first picked up a hockey stick at age 4 and started playing roller hockey at 6.
“I didn’t start ice hockey until I was 11,” he explained.
The fundamentals carried over.
“It’s pretty much the same concept league wise but there is no icing and no offsides, and we are on wheels,” he said.
Murchison’s hockey journey began through his dad, Ken. Growing up in Canada, Ken played in the Ontario Hockey League and later for the University of New Brunswick, Ty said, and then owned the rink where his son learned to play roller hockey. Ken was also Ty’s coach.
“He was my coach every year (I played roller hockey),” Ty said. “It can be hard sometimes because he can be harder on me, but it’s always great to have him on the bench. It reminds me what my game is and what my role is.”
As Murchison progressed in roller hockey, one of his former coaches began recruiting him to try ice hockey.
“It was my first time ever skating, and they invited me to go to the Chicago Bauer Invite, but I got benched the whole time,” Murchison recalled. “I stuck with the team and played with them for five or so years, and now I’m here.”
Ultimately, Murchison said he was won over by the pace of ice hockey.
“The competitiveness and the speed of the game is why I love ice hockey,” he said. “Roller hockey is more taking it back and it’s a slow game. Ice hockey is just go, go, go.”
The 6-foot-1, 173-pound defenseman found that his roller hockey skills actually help him on the ice.
“I would say that the top aspect of my game is my composure,” Murchison said. “That is definitely something I learned from roller hockey. It is everything that it is. Becoming a defenseman and having that composure on the ice is perfect for me.
“Being able to chip in both ways. I’m a two-way defender, so I can support the defensive end, but I also can jump up into the plays. It’s everything.”
Murchison first learned about the NTDP two years ago, when one of the scouts spoke to him. After playing for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings 16U team last year and earning an invite to the NTDP in Michigan, he took some simple advice from his dad.
“He has always talked to me about development,” said Murchison, whose parents, including mom, Allyson, moved out to Michigan to be with him. “You have to want to get better. You need to take it day by day. Once they offered a contract, it was a no-brainer. My dad told me that you need to come here to develop and grow your game.”
Still, nothing could prepare him for the first time he walked in the locker room and saw the USA jerseys hanging up.
“Walking in and seeing the jerseys when they had the USA jerseys up in our stalls,” said Murchison. “It is a dream come true.”
The transition wasn’t easy at first, but Murchison has learned plenty about himself during his first six weeks in Plymouth.
“The toughest part was the intensity of the practices, and that is something that Coach Wrobo [U17 coach John Wroblewski] really works on,” he said. “It’s just go, go and go. The drills are faster. You have no breaks.”
In addition, Murchison said he’s excited to work with associate head coach Dan Hinote. Hinote played for nine seasons in the National Hockey League, winning a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
“He is a great coach,” Murchison said. “Everything he has to share with the players is something you can learn, and he always has something to say. It is good. I want to learn. Being able to have that person who has that experience and has been through it all, it’s great to have him by your side.”
Murchison and his U17 teammates will open the home portion of their schedule this Friday (Oct. 11) when they welcome the Muskegon Lumberjacks to USA Hockey Arena. He understands what needs to get done in order for the U17s to have success in USHL play.
“We need to get out of our end quickly,” he said. “We need to have more speed and work on our exits. Once we can get down to that offensive zone, we have guys that can bury the puck.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.