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Draft prospect Ty Ronning feels up to dad's speed

Father Cliff was fastest skater on 'NHLPA '93' video game

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

BUFFALO -- It can be a lot to live up to being the son of a former NHL player. It's probably even harder when your father also is a video game legend.

Such is the case for Ty Ronning.

Ty's father, Cliff Ronning, played for seven teams during his 17-year NHL career and scored 869 points, but he also is a video game cult hero as the fastest skater on "NHLPA Hockey '93."

"[My dad] knows a creator, Donnie Mattrick of EA Sports way back, and he kind of thought it would be funny if he put my dad 99 overall on everything," Ty said Tuesday at the NHL Scouting Combine. "[Everything] except for hitting, I think, except for physicality, because he'd get smoked sometimes. It's funny."

Although Cliff may have set the bar high when it comes to video games, he's been the perfect mentor for Ty as a hockey player. At 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, Ty is about the same size his father was when he played, and the advice he has given Ty has the 18-year-old among the 114 players invited to the combine ahead of the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be in Buffalo on June 24 and 25.

"The tips that he gives me is hard work always pays off," Ty said. "Never take a day off; don't count the days, make the days count. That's one thing he tells me because every day is a blessing. You take it how it is and you work your hardest. There's always someone else out there working harder, and you've got to do your best to maintain it or surpass people, so that's what I try to do."

Last season, Ronning scored 31 goals and had 59 points in 67 games. Although Vancouver didn't make the Western Hockey League playoffs, Ty's performance resulting in him being No. 88 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. Despite his size, he's eager to show he can make it at the next level.

"I've been talking to the teams and they say small players can play," Ronning said. "You look at Johnny Gaudreau or [Brendan] Gallagher or [David] Desharnais or [Tyler] Johnson; like you look at those players and it's unbelievable how they can play with the big guys. And you know what? I think I can do that too. That's my dream to play in the NHL, and I think the biggest thing is you've got to react a bit quicker than the bigger guy and you've just got to be on top of things and compete your hardest. The biggest thing is you have to play with your heart and your passion for the game, and that's what I try to do every day."

Part of what has helped Ronning become a goal-scorer is his speed. It's not uncommon for smaller players to be faster than others, but speed, and not just the kind in a video game, is one thing he was able to pick up from his father.

"My dad, he says I'm faster than him straight ahead, but agility I need to work on a little more," Ronning said. "As a smaller player, you've got to be quick and agile in the way you move and the way you do things on the ice. My father was really good at that. If you watch clips, I don't think I can remember a big hit on him. He's always moving around and he's always giving head fakes and whatnot. He was good at what he did, and I try to mimic things. I need to work on my agility. I'm good at it, don't get me wrong, but to get to the NHL level, I need to get better, for sure."

Ronning said goal-scoring is in his blood.

"I like making a pass and trying to get open as quick as I can or push off a guy and get open and punch it in the net," Ronning said. "I do whatever it takes to put the puck in the net, and that's just how I am and that's kind of how I was raised with my dad. He loves hockey and his passion for the game was unbelievable. He was like a superhero to me, so I just try to mimic the things he did, and that was jump in the holes and put the puck in the net."

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