Sticking with the state of Michigan: Northern Michigan University top forward Troy Loggins signs with AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins

Northern Michigan University’s Troy Loggins, right, vies for control of the puck with Bowling Green State’s Connor Ford as the Wildcats’ Denver Pierce follows the play in the third period of Game 1 of their WCHA playoff semifinals series at the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Friday. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — The hockey journey has always been an untraditional one for former Northern Michigan University forward Troy Loggins.

The southern California native grew up playing roller hockey before eventually making his way to the Upper Peninsula.

That path may be uncommon, but it’s helped take Loggins to the next level. As a senior during the past season, he just finished his collegiate career last weekend when the Wildcats bowed out of the WCHA playoffs in the semifinal round.

On Wednesday, he signed a three-year contract to play for the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings’ minor league affiliate.

Loggins was still pumped when asked how he was feeling in a phone interview that afternoon.

Troy Loggins

“I’m feeling pretty good obviously,” Loggins said with a laugh. “Whenever you get the chance to sign with someone like Grand Rapids, I’m always going to be pretty excited. I think it’s a little weird how fast it all happened, but I’m really happy with it.”

Loggins said he was talking with a couple of different teams, but that the Red Wings were in contact with him all season and he said that the Griffins’ reputation is what sets them apart.

“I think it’s their success in the American Hockey League and the way that they move up so many players from the AHL to the NHL,” he said. “I think it’s a really good development path for myself.”

Signing with the Griffins capped off a great 24 hours for Loggins as he was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday after leading the league with 20 goals and 32 points in 28 league games. He finished the year with 40 points and was second in the country with 23 goals.

Loggins also tied for first nationally in power play goals with 10 and shorthanded goals with three, while leading outright in shots on net with 155. He also has the opportunity to win WCHA Player of the Year when that award is announced today. He shared that chance with two fellow Wildcats, defenseman Phil Beaulieu and goaltender Atte Tolvanen.

“It feels great obviously,” he said. “We got off to a slow start, but I think just playing with Adam (Rockwood) and Denver (Pierce) for the second half of the year, those guys really helped me.

“Obviously, Adam always passes the puck and Denny was doing a really good job as well. It’s really special for me, but it’s also, I think, more of a line of work because I wouldn’t get that without those guys.”

Now, Loggins gets to reconnect with a former teammate as forward Dominik Shine suits up for the Griffins and Loggins said he had a chat with Shine before he decided to sign with Grand Rapids. Interestingly enough, Shine was in the Lone Star State as the Griffins played the Texas Stars that night, former Wildcats forward Robbie Payne’s team.

“I actually called Shine before I made my decision and had a good talk with him,” Loggins said. “It’s really nice that I get to go back and play with him once again. Dom is a great guy and he was an older guy who taught me the ropes. It’s kind of funny that he’s going to have to do that again.”

Shine isn’t the only support Loggins has received as he said his parents have been along for the ride as well the past few days.

“They’re feeling really good,” Loggins said. “They were actually out here our last weekend we played, and after that they were going through the whole process with me, so that was pretty exciting.

“They ended up actually just going home. They’re happy. I’ve been on the phone constantly these past couple days. It’s been crazy and hectic, just to say the least.”

Things may be currently crazy, but Loggins is content knowing what his next destination will be.

“I would say it’s kind of a relief to kind of just know what I’m doing for the next few years,” he said. “There was a lot of worrying and excitement and that kind of stuff, but now it’s just exciting to move forward and know what I’m doing these next few years.”

From roller hockey in sunny California to the U.P. to the pros may be an unusual road, but Loggins takes pride in what he’s accomplished.

“I think if you told me or my family back when I was a kid that I’d be going from roller hockey through juniors and playing college and then signing with an NHL/AHL team, I don’t know if I would’ve believed you,” he said. “I think it’s definitely a different story, but one that I’m proud of.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.