At the end of an AHL season the arrival of young talents from the college and major junior hockey scene is commonplace. They don’t all have to be players that were drafted by NHL parent clubs and signed to entry level contracts. Several undrafted players generally turn up to make their first big impression on the professional ranks to make a statement heading towards that rookie season as a pro. The aim isn’t purely what’s performed on the ice on gameday, either. It is a great chance to experience what it means to be a professional hockey player away from the rink and see what it takes on a day-to-day basis to maintain a lengthy career.
When Tyler Moy arrived to the Milwaukee he did so the day he signed his entry level contract with the Nashville Predators on 10 April, 2017. He showed up to an empty hotel room and embarked on his practice with the Milwaukee Admirals the following day. The day after that? Moy made his professional playing debut and tallied an assist in a 2-1 victory for the Admirals on the road against the Rockford IceHogs. Following the debut, two-days later, Moy had two more assists in a 6-2 victory on his debut at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena which was also played against the IceHogs and then notched the first goal of his professional career the very next day. That goal would come in a 5-1 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins and, sadly, his two games played during the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs were also in losing efforts to those exact same Griffins.
So, what about Moy’s experience at the end of the 2016-17 season was so unique compared to many of the others who were making that same step into the professional ranks? Homework. He was still doing homework so that he could graduate from Harvard University on schedule.
Moy was drafted by the Predators with the 175th overall selection in the 6th Round of the 2015 NHL draft out of Harvard University. That 2014-15 season for Moy saw him amass 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 37 games. It was a decent step forward for him as a college sophomore. His freshman season of 2013-14 he was limited to 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 27 games. To look at some of the names surrounding Moy at Harvard in those early seasons at the program it isn’t hard to see why playing opportunities could be limited. His teammates in the forward group included: Colin Blackwell, Kyle Criscuolo, Luke Esposito, Brian Hart, Alexander Kerfoot, Sean Malone, Ryan McGregor, and some bloke named Jimmy Vesey. Harvard was a very beefed up team down the middle and at times it meant Moy being the odd man out opposed to those of higher standing within the ranks. It might not have been until his senior season in 2016-17 when he was finally unleashed: 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists) in 36 games while also providing a plus/minus rating of +20.
You can kind of get the sense why Moy was able to keep that confidence rolling into his first taste of professional level hockey once he did reach the Admirals in the AHL. He scored a point in every game that he played upon arrival and only hit a wall, as most did for the Admirals, once that opening round playoff series came crushing down.
Yet, for all that was being thrown at him, there was so much more work to be done than a typical player stepping into that pro debut environment endures. It can be typical for a player in Moy’s position to not have much experience of the city he is even arriving to. His grandfather was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Beyond that? There wasn’t much else to fallback on. How do you drive in and around the city? Where do you get good food? How do you acclimatize to a brand new locker room environment after having already grinding out a full collegiate season? How do you decompress what was completing your collegiate playing career? Do you get a chance to reflect on that chapter of your playing career ending? All of that really ends up needing to come at its own speed over time. It kind of had to. Because, in the down time, Moy could be found in the lobby of his hotel still cranking out homework assignments. Somewhere between all the buzz of coming up to speed with the likes of a new coaching staff with Dean Evason, Stan Dulia, and Scott Ford there was a necessity to plug in papers for elective courses covering Classical Mythology and the Hebrew Bible. Not to mention preparing for the Griffins in the opening round of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.
I suppose the good news was that Moy’s concentration at Harvard University was already wrapped up once he did get down to the home stretch as a student. He needed to finish up four classes before he could officially graduate on 25 May, 2017. And, thanks to the wonders of the internet, he was able to complete his elective coursework in Milwaukee for Harvard University whilst competing in his first career professional hockey games as a member of the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL. Not too shabby, Moy.
The giant mystery for myself once the 2016-17 season concluded for the Admirals had little to do with hockey. It was whether or not Moy managed to race back out of hockey mode and complete all of his classes and finals in time for graduation. That mystery was answered at this year’s Rookie Development Camp: he did. Moy earned a degree from Harvard University in Human Evolutionary Biology.
If there is anything to be said of Moy’s entry into the professional game it is that his on and off ice work ethic are without question. The youngster who turns 22-years old tomorrow is someone who has already shown a commitment to setting out a goal and completing it as shown in his educational efforts. It can be awfully shocking just how many hockey players at this level do not have a back-up plan in place for when their hockey careers come to an end. Moy has a pretty good starting point and one he earned. That’s a rather nice weight off the mind. And to think this story all begins because the Predators spotted Moy in a wave of highly talented players at Harvard all while he getting the full push to show-off all that he could do.
What was experienced at the end of the 2016-17 season for Moy was a great preview into the type of player and person that he is. If Moy could score 4 points in his first 3 games as a member of the Admirals whilst adjusting to a new city, new coaching staff, new teammates, the pro game, and completing his commitments as a college student to secure a degree from Harvard University? Just what can we expect from the Scientist now that his new concentration can be that of being the absolute best pro hockey player that he can be? He’s the one with a degree in evolution. Perhaps he’ll best answer that in the years to come.
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