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NHL Draft

Ty Ronning draws inspiration from Gaudreau, father

Son of Cliff Ronning hopes to follow in footsteps of Flames forward

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealenhl / Staff Writer

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2016 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects. 

Right wing Ty Ronning said he hopes one day to meet Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau, or maybe even have an opportunity to play against him. 

Ronning a prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft and the son of retired NHL player Cliff Ronning, said he's been a big fan of Gaudreau's since Ronning first watched him last season.

A lot of Ronning's attraction to Gaudreau is their size.

When the Flames drafted Gaudreau in the fourth round (No. 104) of the 2011 NHL Draft, he was listed at 5-foot-6 and 137 pounds. He's now grown to 5-9 and 157 pounds. 

Ronning is listed at 5-9 and 165 pounds. He's No. 82 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2016 NHL Draft. 

"He's a smart, skilled player with very good hands, a good shot and quick release," said Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting. "He's willing to go to the dirty areas to score goals. He's strong on his feet and can protect the puck well, has good vision and playmaking ability." 

As Ronning has watched Gaudreau excel despite his size, he hopes to carve a similar path. 

"I like the way he can take over a hockey game even though he was a player who was criticized because of his size," Ronning said. "It's a little bit the same with me. 

"You know what? Haters can hate. But I look at him and I remember watching him score a hat trick at the World Junior Championship [for the United States in 2013], and I was like, 'Wow, what a player.' In Calgary he's doing a phenomenal job." 

Ronning can take pride in the fact he's also been turning some heads this season, his third with Vancouver of the Western Hockey League. He leads the team with 28 goals, including seven on the power play, and he's second with 46 points in 50 games. 

Last season he was limited to 24 games because of a shoulder injury sustained during the preseason. However, he said sitting out so long toughened him mentally. 

"Hockey is an up-and-down sport like a roller coaster," he said. "I think the biggest thing is playing with confidence. 

"I always felt like I was never given the opportunity before [last season]. But I've really picked things up and got coaches that believe in me and a team that believes in me." 

He's also learned plenty from his father, who was selected in the seventh round (No. 134) by the St. Louis Blues in the 1984 draft. Cliff Ronning played 17 NHL seasons with the Blues, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild and New York Islanders. He had 306 goals and 869 points in 1,137 games. 

"I look at my dad as a super hero; he's my idol," Ty Ronning said. "He's given me so much advice and so many little things that can help my game. He has a lot of knowledge of the game but is always telling me hard work pays off. I just have to make the most of my opportunities." 

Ronning plays his home games at Pacific Coliseum, which was the home of the Canucks during the five-plus seasons his father played for them. 

It was one of Cliff Ronning's other NHL homes, however, that left a lasting mark on Ty. On Ty's sixth birthday, he got to ride the Zamboni during intermission of a Predators home game. 

"That was one of the highlights of my life," he said. "I remembered being so excited because I was going to share the same ice as my dad. The Predators mascot was there and he jumped on with me and we were riding around. And then all of a sudden the scoreboard flashed 'Cliff Ronning's son, Ty, celebrates his sixth birthday.' That was very cool." 

Ronning got to have another cool moment when he got to play in the 2016 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver on Jan. 28. He scored a goal and had five shots on goal. Ronning, who was playing for Team Don Cherry, was an injury replacement for Vancouver captain Tyler Benson, who missed the game because of a lower-body injury. 

He shared a line with center Sam Steel (5-11, 178) of Regina of the WHL and Vitaly Abramov (5-9, 175) of Gatineau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Ronning proved to be one of the more energetic and effective players in the game. 

"My dad told me to shoot the puck, have fun, and that if I wanted to turn some heads, outwork everyone else on the ice," Ronning said. 

He gave the hometown fans something to cheer about 3:09 into the first period when he banged a rebound from the slot past goaltender Carter Hart to give Team Cherry a 1-0 lead. 

"I think it was the loudest cheer I've ever had at [Pacific Coliseum]," Ronning said. "It was something I'll never forget."

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