a life centered on hockey

This is a Mt. Lebanon love story, and only partly because Tyler Murovich asked Lisa Watson to marry him in January 2015 in front of the place they met years ago, Howe Elementary, and then they went to dinner at Il Pizzaiolo.

She said yes, by the way.

Murovich has a second love, hockey, and that dates to his childhood, too. He is the proverbial rink rat who stuck with it and now plays professionally.

“I’ve accumulated a lot of memories. I’m lucky just to be able to play hockey for a job,” says Murovich, 26, a forward with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL who has spent a little time at the higher-level American Hockey League and keeps honing his game in the hope of moving up and perhaps getting a chance to play in the NHL.

“Murv’s the kind of guy that comes in early, gets himself ready for practice,” Gladiators coach Andy Brandt says. “High-energy guy. We know he’s going to give us all he’s got. Then he stays on the ice until it’s time for the pucks to be picked up, and he’s one of the guys picking up pucks.”

Murovich has an extensive post-practice workout, one partly based on tips he got while attending a Penguins summer development camp as an undrafted invitee, and is usually the last player to leave the rink.

Left to Right: Mason Murovich, Jaromir Jagr, Mike Roman and Tyler Murovich.
Left to Right: Mason Murovich, Jaromir Jagr, Mike Roman and Tyler Murovich

His long hours at the rink trace to the fact that his family built and runs Ice Castle ice rink.

OK, granted, Ice Castle is just over the line in Castle Shannon, but Murovich grew up on Valley Park Drive and played for Mt. Lebanon High School (where one of his teammates on the 2006 state championship team was Matt Bartkowski, now a defenseman with the Vancouver Canucks), as well as the Pittsburgh Predators youth hockey organization. So it still qualifies as a Mt. Lebanon love story.

Murovich spends his summers in Mt. Lebanon and at Ice Castle. He works out with Bartkowski and Upper St. Clair’s Vince Trocheck, a forward with the Florida Panthers.

He’s also heavily involved in youth coaching. He and his brother, Mason, who also played for Mt. Lebanon, and friend Sean Berkstresser, who played at Robert Morris and in the ECHL, run Pittsburgh Pro Hockey Camps in the summer, offering coaching for all ages. At some point, Murovich wants to pursue coaching, but for now he’s still living the dream as a player.

“I just love hockey. I never want to get away from it,” says Murovich, who is writing an interesting blog this season for the ECHL.

As part of the Lebo state title team, Murovich, only a sophomore then, led not only the Blue Devils but also the PIHL in scoring with 25 goals, 45 assists.

Primarily a center with Atlanta—he had 10 goals, seven assists in 32 games over the first few months of this season—he usually played winger during his time in the AHL, where he has eight goals, 15 points in 64 games with five clubs. That includes a brief stay with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Penguins’ top affiliate.

Article Pic 2In the AHL, he tries to adapt to whatever role the team needs.

“Sometimes that means you have to produce more offensively,” he says. “Sometimes it means more of a grinding role or shutdown role, taking faceoffs, being a pest.”

It takes a certain bulldoggedness to be a “pest” in hockey, and Murovich has the proper intensity.

“Whether he’s in a top-line or a third-line role, he’s a pest,” says Brandt, who sees Murovich’s competitive streak off the ice, too.

“He loves bubble hockey. We have one in our locker room,” says Brandt, adding that Murovich pretty much beats everyone. “I have played him and I have not beaten him. Yet.”

All Gladiator photography courtesy of Dale Zanine /Atlanta Gladiators