A like father, like son moment
By Tom Berridge, Burnaby Now
April 25, 2012 7:03 AM
Former NHL hockey star Cliff Ronning and 14-year-old son Ty had a father-and-son moment like no other.
The two Burnaby Winter Club products will go down in amateur hockey history as what might be the one and only time two family members will accomplish a most unlikely triple at the Western Canadian AAA bantam hockey championships.
Cliff, who retired in 2004 after a stellar 18-year career in the NHL, was in the stands to watch his son win a Canada West bantam hockey title following the Burnaby Winter Club's 3-0 victory over the Alberta Southgate Lions on April 8.
It brought back memories for Cliff, who also won a Western bantam banner with the winter club 32 years earlier at what was called back then the Kelly Douglas Cup.
What makes the feat even more remarkable is that both Cliff and son Ty were the leading scorers at the tournament and both were also singled out as the most sportsmanlike players.
"It's special," said Ty, who has been pegged as a possible top-10 forward heading into the upcoming Western Hockey League bantam draft on May 3. "Fate took care of me. It's pretty funny."
But there is nothing funny about the numbers Ty put up in league, provincial and Western Canadian champion Bruins this season.
Ty scored 77 goals and added 76 assists in 72 games in his first season at the A1 bantam level. He also posted a mind-numbing plus 109.
"The word is exciting," said Cliff. "(Ty) has a lot of things ahead of him - a lot of obstacles. But it's fun to see all the scouts say he's determined to succeed at what he sets his mind to."
As a small 5-7 forward when he broke into the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, Cliff knows firsthand that overcoming a size difference is a character builder for young hockey players.
"I remember those moments, going through the battles. You remember that," said Cliff, who was on the winter club team that also won the Air Canada Cup, B.C.'s first national midget hockey title.
Cliff went on to a stellar WHL career, winning rookie of the year in 1984, while leading the major junior league in scoring the following season as a first team all-star and MVP with a then record 197 points with the New Westminster Bruins.
Ty would like nothing more than to follow in his father's footsteps.
"I'm definitely thinking about the WHL. It's one of the things I'm looking for," said Ty.
Ty, who learned to roller blade before he could walk, possesses more topend speed than his dad, said Cliff, who unlike his son was a left-handed shot. "(Ty) is a much better all-around player than I was. He's a complete player. When I played, I just thought about offence."
Ty, a Grade 9 student at Notre Dame Regional School, is also a much better student academically, currently sustaining a B average.
But Ty has learned other important lessons that should help him along the way.
After being dropped to the Tier 2 winter club team in his first year of bantam last season, Ty made the best of it and kept working hard.
He had a similar thing happen to him earlier in peewee A before re-establishing himself on the top team following a recall for an exhibition game.
It's taught him some important character lessons about having a good work ethic, sticking to one's goals and what it takes to be a member of a team.
Defeating Cloverdale for the provincial banner and coming into the Western Canadian championships as a single unit and not as a team of individuals were key elments in Ty's development this season.
"It brought my confidence up, and I've learned to be a team leader, putting team first," said Ty, who had four goals and 11 points at the Westerns.
Back in 1980, Cliff was taken by the Kamloops Blazers in a precursor to what is now the WHL bantam draft.
The Blazers don't pick until the 19th spot of the first round, so it is unlikely Ty would follow his father's path that closely.
The Kootenay Ice have the 10th pick overall, while the hometown Vancouver Giants select at No. 15.
"I'd like to stay close to home, but honestly, I'd play anywhere," said Ty.
The Seattle Thunderbirds hold the first overall pick in this year's draft.
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