|Ty Smilanic signing his national letter of intent with Quinnipiac (photo by USNTDP)|
Quinnipiac received the biggest commitment in program history on November 20th when one of the top uncommitted 2002 U.S. born players in Ty Smilanic made his college decision official by choosing Quinnipiac over teams such as North Dakota along with a few other unknown programs. Smilanic is by far the best player ever to commit to Quinnipiac and could be the first player drafted in the first round of the NHL draft to ever come to Hamden when the draft commences in June of 2020. Smilanic is currently finishing his last year of junior hockey with prestigious United States National Team Development Program which is a collection of the best American born players in the U-18 and U-17 age brackets. Thank you to Ty for taking time out of his schedule to do this Q&A so Bobcat Nation can get to know the newest member of the 2020-2021 roster.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: First off congratulations on signing your national letter of intent with Quinnipiac. What are your emotions like after making your college decision?
Ty Smilanic: I'm pretty happy to have the whole situation just behind me and couldn’t be more happy with my decision right now. I am just soaking up all the emotions right now.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: How did this whole process come about? I must say this came out of left field and was one of the most shocking, yet satisfying commitments in Quinnipiac history.
Ty Smilanic: I took a visit to the campus and just fell in love with the school, the coaching staff, and just all the players. They made me feel like home and made me feel appreciated.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: Your the first grade A prospect that Quinnipiac ever landed in the programs Division I history. Was there anything specific that the coaching staff told you that made you say that Quinnipiac will be my future college destination?
Ty Smilanic: It wasn’t necessarily anything they said, but I could tell that they cared about me as a person and as a player. I felt that with how much they cared, this was the best place for me to develop on and off the ice.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: Quinnipiac has recently put some good players in the NHL such as Devon Toews with the New York Islanders and Connor Clifton with the Boston Bruins but none as highly touted as you. In my opinion, I feel that the Quinnipiac coaching staff is a staff that could get the most out of you as a player during your time at Quinnipiac in helping you prepare for the professional level. Is that something you would agree with as they have taken lesser talent and hidden gems and really developed it into NHL players?
Ty Smilanic: Hundred percent. I couldn’t agree more myself. The way they have been developing players in recent years is astonishing and I can’t wait to be a part of that myself. With a coaching staff that cares as much as they do and a hockey player that loves the game as much as I do, that’s a recipe for a lot of good things to come.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: This is a program that has been to two Frozen Fours and five NCAA tournaments since 2013 but has yet to land a potential first round pick until you committed. Do you feel that you as a player committing to Quinnipiac will open that door where other United States National Team Development Program players who are potential high to mid round picks will look to consider Quinnipiac in future years?
Ty Smilanic: I didn’t really commit to Quinnipiac to open doors for the future, that wasn’t really my motivation. My motivation was to play with the players that I got to meet and to get coached by the coaches I met. However, if me coming here does open doors in the future for more players to follow my path, hopefully that just means good things for this program.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: Your playing for Seth Appert who formally coached RPI in the ECAC. What is he like as a coach and it seems like he has really developed some kids in the past few years with many first round picks especially last year?
Ty Smilanic: He is actually a big reason for me opening my eyes to Quinnipiac. In these two years he’s developed me to become more of a complete player and I am very thankful to have a coach like that. I see a lot of similarities between coach Appert and coach Pecknold.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: Your scouting report is this. Powerful stride with separational speed, puts defenders on their heels and can launch the puck on goal. Skilled and strong and responsible defensively. On paper that is a pretty strong scouting report of you but are their any areas of your game that you feel that need to be improved upon before reaching Hamden?
Ty Smilanic: I want to be a complete 200-foot player that can be trusted in any situation of the game. So I need to work on my defensive zone play so that is probably the biggest thing for sure.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: Is their a player in today’s game that you try to model your game after and if so why?
Ty Smilanic: Being from Colorado, I love watching Nathan MacKinnon. I love how he plays the game with so much speed and plays every shift with so much competitiveness. He is for sure the player I try to model my game after.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: To this point in your life, who has been your biggest influence to get you to this point of playing college hockey and on the brink of being a high NHL draft pick?
Ty Smilanic: Without a doubt I have to give that one to my parents. They were the ones that drove me to the rink every day and were at every single game growing up. I wouldn’t be anywhere that I am today without them.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: What’s it like having scouts from 31 NHL teams consistently watching you and at this point in the season have you had a ton of contact with them?
Ty Smilanic: Yes I have talk to a good amount of NHL teams. It is nerve-racking but I’ve learned as time is going on that I just need to play my game and the rest will figure itself out. I love having the pressure on me as it makes me play at a higher level.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: What should the Quinnipiac community expect from Ty Smilanic on and off the ice?
Ty Smilanic: I'm just a really smiley kid that loves to play the game of hockey and loves to play the game really fast. I am also willing to do whatever it takes to get Quinnipiac the first National Championship in program history.
BobcatsHockeyBlog: What does Ty Smilanic like to do when he is not playing hockey?
Ty Smilanic: I love spending time with my family. Whether that’s going to a sporting event together or just spending a night on the couch watching television. They have built me to the person I am today and continue to this day keep making me a better person.
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