Sweat equity pays dividends for Preds pick Moy
Confidence can be a tricky proposition for a high-level athlete. Too much of it and you run the risk of being labeled cocky. Not enough and your chances of continued success diminish.
San Diego’s Tyler Moy has found a healthy balance, and one of the collateral benefits of it was his selection in the sixth round (175thoverall) by the Nashville Predators during June’s NHL Entry Draft in Sunrise, Fla.
Moy’s confidence is based on hard work, on and off the ice, and it helped him weather twice being passed over in the NHL draft. Moy, who is coming off a stellar sophomore season at Harvard University, took a pragmatic approach about the experiences.
“Obviously, it’s a bit tough to see your name get passed up two years in a row, but I don’t think that at any moment I thought of that as a negative thing in terms of my successes. I never saw it as a defining event I wasn’t drafted or that I was a bad player because of it,” the former San Diego Jr. Gull said. “I always have this confidence about myself that I’m going to make it. That’s what you have to have if you want to make it to that level.
“I can be regarded as a late-bloomer and someone who has taken more time to develop, and I thought I had a lot of room to improve. I never had a doubt about my work ethic.”
That work ethic was honed through countless on- and off-ice sessions with his father, Randy, the Jr. Gulls’ president and a former NCAA Division I and III coach.
Father and son worked on the fundamental skills of skating and edge work, stickhandling, passing and shooting day after day, year after year.
“He’s worked really, really, really hard,” Randy said. “We got very lucky in that he’s very passionate about hockey. Tyler never needed motivation; he always wanted to practice a lot and train a lot.
“A lot of players talk about wanting to play college hockey or play in the NHL, but very few are willing to work that many hours week after week.”
During Tyler’s Bantam seasons, when Randy served as his coach – a role he’d had since Mites – their typical training schedule each Thursday was 45 minutes of power skating during a public skating session at Iceoplex in Escondido, one hour of shooting, stickhandling and passing drills during the ensuing stick time session, a 90-minute team practice, and 45 minutes of dryland workouts.
Four hours in one day, and that doesn’t take into account other skill sessions and team practices each week.
“Having him being able to coach me as much as he did was a huge plus,” Tyler said. “But sometimes being the son of a dad coach isn’t always the easiest thing, either.
“I think he was pretty tough on me compared to the rest of the kids, but overall it pushed me out of my comfort zone. It helped me out in the long run.”
Cornell University commit Alec McCrea played with Tyler and for Randy growing up. Tyler’s work ethic is nothing new, he said.
“Tyler always brought a very good work ethic, and that goes hand-in-hand with leadership,” McCrea said. “Guys look up to him because of that.
“The success he had as a youth hockey player, in junior (with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League) and at Harvard, it’s evidence of the more you put in is what you’ll get out.”
Tyler’s well-rounded game jumped off the film to Predators North American scout Ryan Rezmierski.
“He was always in the right spot, and he worked hard every shift and finished his checks,” Rezmierski said. “He has a bit of everything you want at this level.”
Not only did Moy score 27 points (12 goals) in 37 games, he seamlessly moved through the Harvard lineup, most often centering a much-improved third line on an NCAA Tournament team. But he shone in an eight-game stint on the top line and was a fixture on the Crimson’s penalty kill and top power-play units (where he played the point).
“We had our fair share of injuries this season, and Tyler was often asked to step up into bigger roles,” said Harvard teammate Merrick Madsen, a former California Heat goaltender who was a sixth-round pick by Philadelphia in 2013. “He stepped into a first-line role and he still performed as he should.
“It was good to see him get drafted because he’s so dedicated.”
Those assessments are a reflection of one of Randy’s coaching philosophies.
“I think it’s important to learn to play offense and defense,” Randy said. “Everyone plays everything.”
Added Tyler, “Our team had a lot of chalk talk and video review at a young age, and those things were very helpful to us, growing our hockey IQ.”
It’s hard to argue with the results. Tyler’s peer group from the Jr. Gulls 95s included at various times Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko (a 2014 second-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks), Victoria Royals (Western Hockey League) forward Taylor Crunk, Boston University forward Nik Olsson, University of Nebraska-Omaha forward Austin Ortega, Connecticut College forward Ryan Mowery and McCrea.
“He cared a lot about his players, but he was hard on us,” McCrea said. “We worked a lot on fundamentals and technique.”
The Predators’ interest in Moy, who was selected Harvard’s most improved player this past season, was piqued by several factors. His hockey development and his physical development advanced. Between 16 and 20 he grew to 6-foot-2 and gained 25 pounds – a large portion of which was muscle since he only started a concerted weightlifting program four years ago.
And he fit Nashville’s strategy of staying on prospects passed over in previous drafts.
“So many are forgotten about after their draft years,” Rezmierski said.
So was the selection a complete surprise? Not exactly.
“Several people told us – including Harvard coach Ted Donato and our family advisor – that many, many teams were calling about Tyler,” Randy said. “Five teams had formal interviews with him during the season, and three more invited him to their development camps if he wasn’t picked.
“Because of all of those reasons, we were aware there was a fairly good chance. Still, when his name was called it was sort of a surprise.”
Said Tyler, “I got a text from one of my old coaches, and I thought he was telling me to hang in there. When I saw it said, ‘Congrats!’ I went to look at the draft (online) and saw Nashville picked me.
“It took a little time to settle in. It was a huge relief. My family was pretty excited for me, and they showed it strongly.”
Randy and his wife, Susanna, are at least as proud of Tyler for his academic pursuits. He’s a human evolutionary biology major at an Ivy League school and hopes to treat spinal cord injuries one day.
His younger sister, Keely, who was the leading girls varsity scorer at Kent School in Connecticut this past season, is committed to Harvard starting in 2017.
It all starts with hard work.
– Chris Bayee