Growing up in Fort Wayne, Ind. Florida Panthers 2015 Draft Pick Karch Bachman was one of the few in his hometown who decided to pick up a stick and start playing hockey. Traditionally an area where basketball and football reign supreme, Bachman instead was drawn to the fast-paced action of hockey.
The Fort Wayne Komets of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) were Bachman’s first exposure to the game. Bachman’s father, Kurt, an Attorney for the Professional Hockey Players’ Association for the Komets, regularly took his son to see the Komets play.
“I grew up going to Komets games,” said Bachman about his introduction to the game. “One day I decided I wanted to try it out, and as they say the rest is history.”
After impressive years in Bantam Minor and Bantam Major, Bachman took a different road, attending Culver Military Academy in Indiana for high school hockey. Playing three seasons at Culver before accelerating his education to graduate, Bachman capped off his final season at the Academy by recording 43 points (19-24—43) in 32 games.
Selected by Florida in the fifth round (132nd overall) at BB&T Center, Bachman was thrilled to be selected in front of the hometown fans, a moment he felt was “indescribable.”
“I can’t even describe it,” said Bachman on Draft day. “It almost brings tears to my eyes. Especially [being] here in Florida, being drafted by the Panthers… it’s something special. Stepping into the arena, instead of hearing silence you’re hearing cheers. That’s a pretty special moment for me.”
Just days after being drafted, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound forward found himself at the Panthers’ Development Camp. Bachman’s military background prepared the young winger for the rigors of the Camp, especially the team’s off-ice beach workout. The beach session for the prospects was centered around military-style exercises testing both mind and body.
“I think Culver definitely help prepare me mentally and physically as well,” said Bachman. “The hockey [at camp] is a step up, there’s no doubt about it. But Culver has provided me with a little bit of an edge, mentally dealing with some of the stresses like in the beach workout. We used to do that every once in a while at Culver. Stuff like that really helps prepare me for this.”
On the ice, Bachman plays a game of speed and tenacity. Bachman likes to model his style after Darren Helm of the Detroit Red Wings and Marian Gaborik of the Los Angeles Kings, admiring both players skating abilities and skill sets. Never afraid of the game’s dirty areas, Bachman takes pride in more than just the offensive aspects of hockey but his ability to contribute in all situations.
“My skating is my greatest strength,” he said. “I’m a hard worker. I can get a quick shot off, I like to drive guys wide. I’m not afraid to kill penalties or block shots. That’s my game.”
Culver’s teachings of “Discipline, hard work and teamwork” will be put to the test more than ever for Bachman as he exits his first Development Camp. Knowing the work that lies ahead and the expectations that follow, Bachman will continue his development playing for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) next season, before joining Miami University in 2016-17. His first experience as a Panther is a lasting one as he looks to one day return to the building he was drafted in to suit up for the Cats.
“I love it here [in Florida],” said Bachman. “The facilities, the people especially, it’s a great organization and I’m really happy to be here. First camp was tough. Coming out of high school I realized I’ve got a lot of work to do before I can play at this level. It was a great experience overall, absolutely.”