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Trocheck developing into top prospect with Saginaw

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Like most fathers, Vince Trocheck hoped his son could follow in his athletic footsteps. Vince was a prolific high school and college baseball player who played a little minor-league ball, and when his son Vincent was born, he of course put a bat in his hands as soon as possible.

However, when Vincent started swinging the bat like a hockey stick, father knew son likely would be taking his athletic gifts in a different direction.

For Vincent Trocheck, that's been to the ice -- and it certainly looks like he'll be more successful there than on a baseball diamond.

A 5-foot-10, 184-pound center, Trocheck is No. 42 on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term rankings of the top North American skaters available for the 2011 Entry Draft. In his second season with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, Trocheck has 22 goals and 34 assists in 62 games.

"Vince has a lot of grit in his game," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told "He's willing to battle and come out with the puck. Very good passing ability. Vince is smart, he gets himself into good shooting position on the power play and gets off one-timers. He plays a steady, two-way game and plays with good energy."

Finding that energy level early in his OHL tenure wasn't easy for Trocheck. He played for the Detroit Little Caesars hockey program prior to jumping to Saginaw last season. Not the biggest skater on the ice, Trocheck said it took him time to adjust to the level of competition.

"The biggest transition was the speed of the game and physicality," he told "I played midget major in Detroit with the Detroit Little Caesars, and then I went right to Saginaw and the physicality and the speed was a lot to adjust to, but after the first half of the year I adjusted pretty well."

The numbers bear that out, as he had 4 goals and 20 points in his final 32 games to finish with a solid 15 goals and 43 points in 68 games, and then had 2 goals and 4 points in six playoff games.

Saginaw coach Todd Watson had no complaints about Trocheck's first OHL season.

"I don't think there was much (adjustment) with him," Watson told "With most players there is, but with Vinny, he killed penalties his first year, he played power play his first year, he played all situations in his first year. The adjustment was minimal."

He's taken that same talent level and gotten even better this season.

"He's become more dominant this year than last year," Watson said. "This year he's a player that's playing in all situations and being dominant in those areas. … He's our first line centerman, power play, penalty kill, 4-on-4, 6-on-5, 5-on-6 -- every situation, he plays in."

Trocheck's journey to that level started when he was 13 and decided to leave his family in Pittsburgh to move to Detroit. It is not easy living on your own as a teenager, but Trocheck had a goal in mind and this was the first step.

It was playing in Detroit that he caught the eye of Ontario Hockey League scouts, including Watson's. The Spirit chose him in the second round of the 2009 OHL draft, and Watson said he didn't have to do much selling to get Trocheck to sign on.

"Vinny wanted to be a pro and he's one of the most determined players I've ever coached," Watson said. "He wants to be an NHL player one day and he knows this is the best way to get there."

Trocheck said one visit to Saginaw during the 2009 OHL playoffs sold him.

"My first visit to Saginaw was a first-round playoff game, they played the Guelph Storm and the atmosphere was fantastic," Trocheck said. "There was a lot of fans, the game went double overtime and Saginaw won it, and right then I knew I wanted to play in the OHL because of the atmosphere."

The relationship has been a great one, and it's been made even better by Trocheck's family. While his mother and younger sister have remained in the Pittsburgh area, Vince Sr. has moved to Saginaw and taken a job selling satellite dishes in the Detroit area. It's put a strain on the family, but it's worked out well for Vincent. He and his father share an apartment in town.

"They sacrifice a lot," Watson said. "I think they're a close family. They support the heck out of him."

Part of that support has come in helping Vincent deal with the expectations and stress that come with a player's Entry Draft season. Vincent said having his father around helps keep things in the proper perspective.

"My agent and my dad are always there after games, even if I play bad," he said. "The good thing about the OHL is it's a professional-type of schedule, so you have one game one day and the next day another. If you have one bad game, the next day you have to play harder."

He's also learning that he only can control his own game, which makes it easier to block out who might be in the stands.

"It (the draft) is in the back of your mind at all times," Trocheck said, "but whenever you're out on the ice you're not worried about that. You're worried playing your own game and helping your team win.

"I really try not to think about it. The pressure might help a little bit because there's always that little push in your back trying to get you to play a little harder because you know there's somebody watching."

What scouts are seeing when they watch Trocheck is a pretty good all-round player with what appears to be a very solid future.

"He's determined to make it," Watson said. "When you get a kid that's that focused, he's devoted his whole life to it. … You hear kids say they love hockey, say they want to be a pro. This kid means it."

Author: Adam Kimelman | Staff Writer
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