Friday, 12.01.17 / 9:04 am CT
The IceRays came to terms with 17-year-old defenseman Tyler Love earlier this week. He is the first tender signing of the 2017-18 season and will be seeking to crack the roster at the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
Love is currently a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U18 team, the program which developed IceRays goaltender Chad Veltri. Love has played in all 18 games for the Penguins this season, who have been one of the top teams in the Tier 1 Midget Hockey League.
“We’re excited to have Tyler,” IceRays head coach Brad Flynn said. “He fits the mold of high hockey sense, high compete. He’s the kind of defenseman we want. At the U18 level he’s been a good puck-moving, two-way defenseman. We hope to evolve his game and play to his strengths, so he can give our organization the best chance to win.”
At just 17, Love is already in his fourth season in the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite organization, having played 94 total games in their system. He was named an Alternate Captain this season and has a goal and two assists in his 18 games.
“He has great work ethic and compete-level,” IceRays Director of Scouting and Player Development Mike Mondoux said. “He makes great reads on the ice, has great gap control. Skates well and has offensive upside. I also like his hockey sense. He plays in all the key situations for Pittsburgh U18.”
The U18 Penguins are the third stingiest team in the league, allowing only 1.83 goals per game. Given the fact Love has played in all of their games so far this season, there’s no question he has been an instrumental component to the team’s defensive prowess. “He is a big reason for this low number,” Mondoux added. “He has been a great defender.”
Love believes he can continue to bring a shutdown element to his game at the next level. “I see myself as a smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman with good hockey sense who likes to join in the offense at the right time,” Love said. “But I also take pride in always being solid defensively.”
While continuing to advance in hockey is one of Love’s highest priorities, playing for the IceRays is an added bonus which excites him beyond measure. “I am especially excited about coming to Corpus Christi because the organization and coaching staff seems to be first class, with awesome fan support. I also really like the idea of competing in the South division of the NAHL.”
Signing Love to a tender was the first of many steps in forming the blueprints for the 2018-19 season. While plenty of hockey remains to be played until then, it’s never too early to take a step in the right direction.