by Steve EwenSpecial to the Langley Advance
Opposing defencemen beware. Ty Ronning is trying to sneak into your blind spot again.
When he’s right, the diminutive Vancouver Giants sniper has a knack for stripping the puck off unsuspecting rivals.
Everything will seem fine. Ordinary. And then he’s right there. He’s poking at you. He’s at your left. He’s coming from your right. The puck is suddenly gone, heading toward your net and alarm bells are blaring in your head.
“He’s in guys’ back pockets,” said Giants coach Jason McKee. “He’s hunting the puck now. He’s confident again. He wants the puck all the time.
“He’s committing to being first on pucks. And when he has it, it allows the skill level to take over.”
Ronning, a Burnaby Winter Club product who just turned 19, was a seventh-round pick of the New York Rangers this summer. He went to their camp and says he received positive feedback.
His goal, of course, is to be playing somewhere in their system next fall instead of being back in the Western Hockey League as an over-age player.
“I think I need to get bigger and I think I need to get stronger and I think I need to get faster,” said Ronning, who lists himself at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. “They said I was quick, but they want me faster.
“The game is so fast. At the pro level, you have half a second to make a play. Maybe one second. Here in the WHL, you have two to three seconds. It’s that much quicker. You’re going against men. You’re have to be physically and mentally ready all the time.”
He’s one of the more compelling stories in a year of intrigue for the Giants, who moved to the Langley Events Centre from the Pacific Coliseum this summer and brought McKee and general manager Glen Hanlon on board.
Ronning had one goal in 24 games during an injury-filled 2014-15. But the son of former Vancouver Canucks centre Cliff Ronning exploded last season, scoring 31 times in 67 regular-season matchups.
Where does he go from there? He has five goals and eight assists through 14 starts this season. McKee loaded up his first line for a time, putting Ronning and Edmonton Oilers second-rounder Tyler Benson on the wings with over-age centre Thomas Foster, but last week he opted to spread things out. Ronning ended up on a line with sophomores Dawson Holt and Owen Hardy.
That unit is expected to be together when Vancouver hosts the Kelowna Rockets Friday at the LEC.
Ronning said the Rangers have told him they’re pleased with his development so far this season, but “every day you have to prove yourself,” he said.
Such is life for a guy of his stature.
McKee added: “If you’re the word ‘undersized,’ you also have to be the word ‘dynamic’ and Ty is definitely dynamic.”
Foster has been centring Radovan Bondra and Brendan Semchuk, while Benson has paired with Alec Baer to flank James Malm in McKee’s latest forward reshuffling.
NEXT GAME: Tonight (Saturday, Nov. 5), 7 p.m.Vancouver Giants versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes
– Steve Ewen is with The Province