An Interview With Tyler Murovich
Maybe the name sounds familiar, or maybe not.
Tyler Murovich is a teenage hockey player from Mt. Lebanon, PA, near Pittsburgh, and just seconds from Upper St. Clair, the home community of former Penguin Ryan Malone. When Murovich was young, his dad built the Ice Castle, a very popular local hockey rink, where some of the world’s best amateurs have come for national tournaments in the past.
Tyler’s hockey career started off much like any other. He played hard, always working his tail off, trying to stand out. When he was a freshman at Mt. Lebanon high school, he made the varsity team, a team loaded with outstanding talent, including the recently drafted Matt Bartkowski, now of the Florida Panthers. He was the best offensive player on the team, and as a freshman, mind you, humiliating defensemen and goalies all over the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League. When Ty returned to the Blue Devils for his sophmore season, he again led the team, and the league, in scoring. Behind Murovich and Bartkowski, Mt. Lebanon won the state championship, going undefeated in the process.
After his sophmore year, he left Mt. Lebanon High School for Chicago, where he played junior hockey in the USHL, getting a “taste” of the next level. He could have played on a scholarship for Division One Western Michigan, but instead decided to climb the junior hockey ladder. Murovich played last year as an 18 year old, for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, the most competitive junior league in the world, or at least it is thought by most. Murovich was a key cog for the Spirit, playing a great two way game, and helping the team in every way possible. He attended Penguins prospect camp earlier this year, and continues to give it his all to reach the NHL.
Tyler Murovich was kind enough to answer a few questions for Faceoff Factor, about life off the rink, and on it.
Alex Kirshner: How has the transition been, going from the Western PA hockey, to the greatest junior league in the world, all in three years?
Tyler Murovich: It is amazing how things happen so fast. In eleventh grade I left Pittsburgh for Chicago in December to play for the Steel in the United States Hockey League. This was a great move for me because it gave me a good taste of junior hockey as I got 41 games under my belt in the best college prep junior league. I was planning on going back to Chicago and then Western Michigan for DI college hockey where I had a scholarship. I was contacted by Saginaw in August before that season and it just seemed like a great fit for me. I always wanted to play in the O, but was never drafted so when I was given this chance I could not pass it up. Major junior hockey is arguably the hardest level of hockey to play because you need to balance school and playing hockey in a pro environment at a young age on a daily basis. Playing for both the Pittsburgh Predators and the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils my freshman and sophmore years in high school helped me prepare for the grind of junior hockey because I played over 110 games both seasons. Not to mention my family owning the Ice Castle Arena also helped me prepare.
AK: I know you’ve skated on Mellon Arena Ice before with the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils, but it must have been special to be out there at Pens Prospect Camp with guys like Luca Caputi and Dustin Jeffrey. Thoughts?
TM: It was awesome to play with so many great players at Penguins camp. I played against all of the OHL players that were at Pens camp during the season so it was cool to play and train with them. We played the Soo over a dozen times this season including preseason and the playoffs so I was very familiar with Dustin Jeffrey. It was cool to play with him because he was the hardest guy for me to take faceoffs against in the league, so it was great to work with him after practice on draws.
AK: I know you’ve been playing a role as a versatile center with Saginaw, often asked to contain top forwards on other teams, even having been matched up against Steven Stamkos before. How difficult it is to defend players like that? What must be done?
TM: Matching up against players like Stamkos, (Projected Future #1 Pick John)Tavares and others was a great challenge because of their high skill sets and ability to put the puck in the net on a regular basis. I like to agitate opponents and get under their skin so I am always up for a challenge to try to shut down an elite player. Sometimes you just need to pay attention to how a guy plays. For example, a guy like Stamkos beats players with speed and strength and a player like Tavares beats guys with stick skills and playmaking abilities.
AK: How would you describe yourself as a hockey player?
TM: I am a center who takes pride in playing well in the offensive and defensive zones. I play a high energy game and play with an edge. I enjoy playing physical and I like traffic despite not being one of the bigger guys in the league. I like to consider myself as a team guy and someone who would do anything in order for his team to earn a win. I take pride in doing all the little things right. For example, being first on the puck, winning faceoffs, finishing every check and making smart decisions with the puck.
AK: OK, now the fun stuff…Do you have a specific pregame meal? Or a pregame song to get you pumped up?
TM: For pregame meals I usually like to have some pasta with some chicken and a side salad. Before games I like a mix of rock and rap. My favorite pregame song is Right Now by Van Halen. It was the song our PA announcer, Bob Sebastian played before every game during my sophmore year when we won the State Championship. I like it because it makes me think about all the hard work I have done to get me to where I am and reminds me of my roots.
AK: How does Saginaw compare to Pittsburgh?
TM: Saginaw is a lot different from living in Pittsburgh because it is a small town. We receive a lot of great support from the town and they treat us like we are a NHL team here.
AK: What is your proudest accomplishment as a hockey player?
TM: My proudest moment was winning the State Championship for Mt. Lebanon. It was such an amazing run going 26-0 and allowing the least amount of goals in a single season in the PIHL. It was awesome to constantly be in the paper and it wasn’t bad winning the scoring title too. Of course receiving a phone call to report to Penguins Rookie Camp is pretty good stuff too.
AK: So that’s it. Thanks a lot for helping me out.
As you can see, Tyler is a very well rounded guy. He’s smart, humble, kind, and one Hell of a hockey player. He’s got a big heart, and gives it everything he has every time he hits the ice. If he keeps working as hard as he has been for the last few years, I don’t see anything getting between Tyler and the NHL.