The Poehlings could be a portrait for an all-Canadian family as our country celebrates its 150th birthday on Saturday.
Tim Poehling and his wife, Kris, have four boys who all love hockey and are very good at it. Three of the boys — twins Jack and Nick, along with younger brother Ryan — played on the same forward line last season for their university team, while the youngest brother, Luke, is a defenceman heading into his first season at the bantam level.
“That’s probably a pretty good way to put it,” Tim said when the all-Canadian portrait was mentioned to him. “Hockey has been our lifestyle from the beginning.”
One problem: the Poehlings are Americans from Lakeville, Minn.
If the Poehlings don’t already know about the passion for hockey in Canada — and Montreal — they’re about to find out since Ryan was the Canadiens’ first-round pick (25th overall) at last weekend’s NHL Draft.
“Everybody knows about the Montreal Canadiens if you play hockey,” Tim said during a phone interview, noting Ryan had never been to Montreal. “I think it’s one of those things where (Ryan) probably thinks he understands what a big deal it is, but until you really experience it you probably don’t really understand and appreciate to the fullest extent exactly who the Montreal Canadiens are.”
What kind of player is the 18-year-old, who had seven goals and six assists in 35 games last season while skating on the same line as his twin brothers at St. Cloud State University?
“There’s what he is and what he’s going to be,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said in a phone interview. “Those are two distinct things because he was the youngest player in college hockey last year. He should have still been in Grade 12 … he graduated early to get here. All arrows are pointing to him becoming a 6-foot-2, two-way centreman who can play both ends of the rink. Great responsibility defensively, great faceoff player, kill penalties, power play. When you have a centre who can play against other team’s No. 1 centres defensively and be a catalyst offensively, I think the sky’s the limit for Ryan.”
Motzko said Ryan is a powerful skater with a great shot, but the biggest question mark is how much of an offensive threat he can become. While Ryan’s offensive numbers weren’t great last season in the NCAA, the year before he posted 20-34-54 totals in 25 games with Lakeville North High School.
During the 2014-15 season, Ryan played on the same line as his twin brothers at Lakeville North when the team went undefeated and won the first Minnesota state championship in school history. Ryan was able to graduate high school a year early — skipping Grade 12 — so he could play with his big brothers again last season at St. Cloud State. Jack and Nick, who are two years older, were never selected at the NHL Draft.
“They were very excited for him, very happy for him,” Tim said about the twins’ reaction to Ryan getting drafted. “Those three are the best of friends and they want what’s best for each other.”
Tim added there’s no doubt Ryan’s development got a boost from always trying to keep up with his older brothers.
Minnesota is a hockey hotbed in the U.S. and Tim and his wife both come from hockey families. Tim described himself as an “average player” in high school, while Kris’s brother, Stan Palmer, was selected by the Canadiens as a defenceman in the 13th round of the 1977 NHL Draft.
“We had the backyard rink and the boys would be out there all the time,” Tim said. “That’s what kids do in Minnesota. It was a great way to grow up, that’s for sure. You guys (in Canada) know how it goes. It becomes your lifestyle, spending a ton of time in arenas, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
When asked to describe Ryan as a person, the father said: “He is a pretty cerebral kid … he’s smart. He was good in school and he’s kind of naturally smart. He’s driven. Once he decides he wants to do something, he’ll commit himself to it and typically make it happen. If not, he’ll leave everything out there trying. He’s multi-dimensional, meaning he’s got a lot of different friends who do different things. He’s got his hockey group of friends, he’s got his (summer) cabin group of friends, he’s got friends who don’t play sports. I’d describe him as a pretty well-rounded kid. He’s pretty self-aware of his situation and his surroundings in whatever he’s doing. We’ve just been very lucky with all our kids … they’ve been great kids. They’ve never gotten into any trouble.”
Said Ryan’s coach at St. Cloud State: “You’re getting a pretty special young man.”
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Source : http://montrealgazette.com/sports/hockey/nhl/montreal-canadiens/stu-cowan-for-canadiens-draft-pick-ryan-poehling-hockey-is-a-family-affair