GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Fans watching the Toyota-USA Hockey Tier I 14-and-Under Youth National Championships didn’t have to look far to see names they would recognize on the back of jerseys.
Tkachuk. Hatcher. Brind’Amour. Just to name a few.
The 14U field featured plenty of sons of former and current National Hockey League standouts, as well a son of a top-notch NHL coach.
“I don’t know why that birth year, but when I was playing in different places, there was one year in Anaheim [my teammates] had six to eight babies,” said Penguins Elite 14U coach Troy Loney, who played 12 years in the NHL. “That’s a lot of babies.”
Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma’s son, Bryan, plays for the Penguins Elite. Dan Blysma also coached Team USA at the 2014 Olympics.
“When I first got this job, I told Dan, ‘I welcome any of your input and your comments, or you can just be a dad,’” Loney said.
Bylsma chose to be take the hands-off approach.
U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Keith Tkachuk has his youngest son Brady playing for the St. Louis Blues 14U team. Twenty-year NHL veteran Rod Brind’Amour has a son Skyler on the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes. Team Comcast out of New Jersey is stacked with recognizable names: Kelton Hatcher, son of Hall of Famer Derian Hatcher, who is the team’s coach; Carson Briere, son of Montreal Canadiens center Daniel Briere; Samuel Timonen, son of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen; and Mattias Samuelsson, son of former Flyer Kjell Samuelsson.
“It’s just neat to see these ex-NHLers have kids in the game,” said Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U coach John LaFontaine, whose brother, Pat LaFontaine, was an NHL star.
Loney recently became part owner of the Youngstown (Ohio) Phantoms of the United States Hockey League, so he now has vested interest in watching the future NHL players’ sons. He could have a shot at drafting them in the next year.
“You can’t help it, but when you do see someone’s son that you played against you look for that same trait that dad had,” Loney said. “The possibility of them turning into the way their father played is always exciting.”
Small Stature, Big Heart
It’s tough sometimes to spot Sean Dhooghe when he’s standing on the ice. However, when the 5-foot-4 forward for the Chicago Mission gets his skates going, he certainly stands out.
“He thinks he’s 6-foot-4 when he plays,” Mission coach Gino Cavallini said. “There’s no give in his game. He goes 100 percent every shift, no matter what.”
Dhooghe, 15, has shown for years that his small stature doesn’t hamper him.
“People are always telling me, even our last game, I’m too small,” Dhooghe said. “I’ll try and go out there and make a big hit. I might fall, but I still try and make them think I’m one of the biggest guys out there.”
Dhooghe played well at nationals. He finished tied for fourth in points at 14U with eight on four goals and four assists.
“He’s always been one of the top two or three kids at his age level,” Cavallini said. “It’s tough for anybody to match up player-for-player with him.”
Dhooghe may not have the height, but he has heart and determination.
“I’ve talked to people, and they’ve always told me how the game is changing and it’s not goon hockey; it’s small, quick, skilled and smart, so I think I’m going to fit in pretty well,” Dhooghe said.
Dhooghe, who will play for the Mission 16U team next season, is already getting solid interest from Division I schools and has been on a few unofficial visits. His older brother, Jason, has already committed to play at Ohio State University.
Dhooghe will continue to hard work on his game and control what he can. He’s hoping to hit a growth spurt in the next few years to get as intimidating as he plays.
“I’m waiting,” he said with a smile.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.