Growing up as the child of a professional athlete has its challenges. Following your father’s career path has even more challenges.
Those challenges are being met head-on by Ty Loney, son of Penguins’ two-time Stanley Cup champion Troy Loney.
The younger Loney, 23, signed an American Hockey League contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 2015-16 season.
“It’s inspiring when your child wants to do the same career that you have,” Troy said. “At the same time, he’s a much different player than me. There will always be those comparisons, good and bad.”
Loney jokingly added: “Hopefully, good in his favor and bad in my favor.”
Though Ty may be following in his father’s footsteps, he is his own man.
“Hopefully, I can get out of his shadow – which is a pretty big one – pretty quickly and make my own path, my own name for myself,” Ty said. “He’s been my role model. But I’m hoping I can play really, really well here in the future and carve my own path.”
Loney, a big, two-way forward that’s good around the net, was born in Pittsburgh in 1992, exactly three months before Pittsburgh won its second of back-to-back Stanley Cups with his father Troy. After retiring, Troy returned to Pittsburgh where Ty grew up.
Ty, a Pine-Richland High School graduate, came up through the local amateur hockey system along with other Pittsburgh-based NHL players Brandon Saad and Stephen Johns.
Loney (6-foot-4, 208 pounds) was naturally a Penguins fan in his youth, his favorite player being the dynamic Alexei Kovalev. With his new contract, Loney is one step closer to realizing his dream of playing in the NHL, and doing so for his childhood team.
“Everyone has that team they watch growing up. Fortunately it was able to work out that I signed with the Pens,” Loney said. “It doesn’t normally happen that way. I’m just excited. There’s an opportunity there. I will do my best and see what happens.”
After two seasons with Youngstown of the USHL, Loney committed to play collegiate hockey at the University of Denver. In four seasons, Loney totaled 39 goals and 89 points in 152 games, leading the Pioneers to a National Collegiate Hockey Conference championship in his junior season in 2014.
Loney added four points (2G-2A) in five games with the Norfolk Admirals after finishing his college career.
Loney has had to earn every opportunity over the years and is taking the long road to the NHL.
“He was always a little bit of a late bloomer. To see him keep working hard to try and obtain his goal has been rewarding,” Troy said. “Now to have this next step after school and that his first pro contract happens to be with the Penguins is even better yet.
“It’s a big deal for him, for our family. We just hope this sets him up to make the next step and eventually someday play with the Penguins.”
Throughout his journey, Ty has always had his father on whom to rely.
“I’ve learned a lot from him and how hard he’s worked in the past and how hard he works now – from being an unbelievable hockey player to a great father and great husband,” Ty said. “He’s my go-to for pretty much everything.”
Troy also coached his son while he was a youth and knows that he has the character that it takes to play in the NHL.
“He’s a strong personality,” Troy said. “He plays his own style of game. He’s his own person. I can’t be more proud of him than that.”
Interestingly enough, after traveling across the country for college hockey, Loney’s biggest opportunity came from the club in his own backyard.
“I would have never guessed that this was the path I would take,” Loney said. “To end up signing with the Penguins organization, I never would have expected that. It’s interesting how everything worked out.”