Wheels to blades: Ty Murchison’s path from roller hockey to ASU defenseman

ASU sophomore Ty Murchison was one of 60 players selected to the 2022 USA Hockey National Junior Team Evaluation camp in Plymouth, Michigan, this past summer. (Photo by Grace Edwards/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Ty Murchison always knew he would become a hockey player. His father, Ken, played pro hockey in the East Coast Hockey League, while his mom, Allyson, was a figure skater.

“I was kind of born to be on the ice,” Ty said.

Murchison’s parents are both from hockey-crazy Canada. When Ken was offered a job with the Anaheim Ducks, he moved his family to Corona, California, where he managed many of the Southern California roller hockey rinks.

“Roller hockey has had a huge impact on my family,” Ken said. “I have been in the roller hockey industry for 26, 27 years. As an East Coast Canadian kid, I didn’t know anything about roller hockey until I got invited to come down and play in the RHI (Roller Hockey International). And then I just really kind of fell in love with the game. Just the creativity and things that kids were doing, I had never seen it before.”

Ken’s ties with roller hockey, along with his connection with the Ducks, helped form Ty’s initial gravitation toward hockey. Ty grew up around the local rink playing roller hockey from the age of 6, with his father coaching him for five years.

When he was 11, Ty was recruited out of a roller hockey tournament to start his ice hockey career for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings. Going from roller hockey wheels to ice skate blades, the transition was a work in progress.

“He learned a lot of the basics from roller hockey with the stickhandling and puck possession,” Ken said. “Just adapting to the ice skating and the edges took him a little bit of time. It was one area that we focused on, spending extra time away from his team working on edge work and escaping.”

Once Ty started playing ice hockey, Ken drifted away from being his coach and let him work with other coaches to help learn different perspectives. Although Ken wasn’t Ty’s coach anymore, the two would talk hockey non-stop during their long drives to Los Angeles for practice.

“We always talked about his game in the car, “ Ken said. “I’m sure he’s taken quite a bit of what I’ve said, and I believe he has. I enjoy watching my son play, I feel he plays it the right way.”

The extra practice time and guidance paid off as Ty’s game on the ice elevated and he quickly rose from league to league. In 2020, Ty was selected to play for the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) Juniors team in Plymouth, Michigan. After spending two years with the USNTDP, the Philadelphia Flyers selected him in the fifth round of the 2021 NHL draft.

More development was needed for Ty before turning pro, so he chose the college hockey route to play for Arizona State, a Division I program.

Ty had a solid freshman campaign as a Sun Devil, playing in all 35 NCAA games last season. The jump to college hockey was a challenge, but he was proud of how his game evolved over the year.

Arizona State men’s ice hockey defenseman Ty Murchison was selected in the fifth round of the 2021 NHL draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Grace Edwards/Cronkite News)

“Being the younger guy on the team, it was definitely learning to mature a lot more quickly,” Ty said. “But the coaches had a lot of belief in me. They helped me as much as they could. It was a great first year. Obviously, it didn’t go the way we wanted it to. But you know, I think we’re really looking forward to this year.”

ASU coach Greg Powers saw Ty’s development and progress as the season evolved. ASU has had only three true freshmen play in its program, Powers noted, with Ty being the third last year.

“I knew that he was incredibly talented, but he was raw because he was so young,” Powers said. “He just got better and better every week. The more confident he got, the stronger he got, as he physically adjusted to the college game. By the end of the year, you could make a case that he was arguably our best five-on-five defenseman.”

Ty hopes to elevate his game more offensively after finishing his rookie year with four goals and three assists.

“I think just confidence with the puck, being able to create more for my team,” said Ty, listing the skills he’d like to improve. “Continuing to be strong defensively and moving the puck.”

“He is absolutely capable [of providing more offense],” Powers said. “We’re going to work really closely this year on his play with the puck, and just his skill set and making plays on the offensive blue line, getting more shots through because he can really shoot it. So that’s kind of his next evolution.”

Ty enters his sophomore campaign with a ton of confidence with the NCAA season opening Oct. 1. This summer, he was one of 60 players to be selected to the 2022 USA Hockey National Junior Team Evaluation camp in Plymouth, Michigan.

“All the best kids that are my age or a year older were there so it’s definitely good to take that all in to watch other guys to enhance my game,” Ty said.

Although he did not make the 2022 USA National Junior team, Ty has the opportunity to be selected to the 2023 team with the roster expected to be announced in mid-December.

“I’m not too worried about making the team, just trying to focus on this year,” Ty said. “But obviously, if I get that call, it would be an honor.”

Ty’s busy summer continued when he attended Flyers development camp in Philadelphia in July. As a Flyers prospect, the organization has kept a close eye on Ty’s development and progress at ASU. Practicing against other potential future NHL players was beneficial for him.

“Obviously, there’s a lot to learn there,” Ty said. “The whole development staff is really good and personable. They said, I’m on a good path and to keep doing what I’m doing at ASU. They have a good relationship with my coaches [here] as well so they’re gonna come out multiple times this year and continue to track me.”

With Ty’s hockey career proceeding at a good place, Ken still remembers his son’s beginnings and is proud of the path he has traveled and the experiences that have come with it.

“We just wanted him to play and find his passion,” Ken said. “We thought he would just play roller hockey his whole life. We had no expectations of him playing ice hockey. We have met a lot of amazing people, gone to a lot of different places throughout the U.S. and Canada. We’ve enjoyed the ride and are still enjoying it. So yeah, it’s been pretty incredible.”

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Danny Karmin expects to graduate in December 2022 with a master’s degree in sports journalism. He has interned with The Abercrombie Agency and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Grace Edwards Grace Ed-words
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Grace Edwards expects to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, a minor in business and a certificate in sales and marketing. Edwards, who has interned as a social media correspondent for the Women’s Premier Soccer League, in her third semester with Cronkite News.