Center Vincent Trocheck would stop at nothing to play in a Panthers sweater.
“I’m coming here to try to make a team and I’m going to do whatever it takes to wear that jersey,” said Trocheck at the Panthers 2013 Prospect Camp in July.
The 20-year old made his NHL debut on March 7 against Buffalo and recorded three shots on 17:35 of ice time, fifth most among Panthers forwards.
Panthers interim head coach Peter Horachek had all positive things to say about the young center after his first NHL game.
“I thought Vinny was really good,” said Horachek. “I saw a lot of him in San Antonio earlier in the year. He’s very competitive, smart, a good passer and really good with the puck. I saw him play the same way here so I was very pleased with his game.”
Trocheck has come full circle this year, from the player that expressed his commitment to make the Panthers team in July, to having reached that goal.
Trocheck started the 2012-13 season with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, where he recorded 50 points (24-26-50) in just 35 games. Last January, he was traded to the Plymouth Whalers, where he finished his season with 59 points (26-33-59) in 28 games.
In June, Trocheck was awarded the Red Tilson Trophy, as OHL’s Most Outstanding Player, after finishing the season with 109 points in 63 games played between the two teams. He was also awarded the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s top scorer. He topped it all off, helping Team USA win gold at the 2013 IIHF U-20 World Junior Championships in January.
“He leads by example and doesn’t take no for an answer when it comes to his production. His drive combined with his high skill level bodes well for his future,” said Panthers Director of Scouting Scott Luce during the Prospect Camp.
Trocheck finished the year with a 21-game point scoring streak. He led the Whalers in points during the playoffs recording 24 points (10-14-24) in 15 games before they were eliminated in the Western Conference Finals.
This season he has been lighting it up with the San Antonio Rampage in his first season in the American Hockey League.
Drafted in the third round (64th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Pittsburgh native leads all San Antonio skaters in points and assists (15-21-36) in 48 games.
On March 5, Trocheck was recalled by the Panthers and his goal from Prospect Camp came to fruition.
The Trocheck family, including his parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandmothers, traveled from Pittsburgh for the game to watch him play in his debut.
“They all figured out their flight situations and were down the next day so it was all so quick,” said Trocheck. “Everything happened so fast.”
During Sunday’s game against Boston, Trocheck led all Panthers forwards in ice time with 22:27 and he followed that up by playing in another 20 minutes (20:03) on Tuesday against Phoenix.
“He was confident, played hard and by the end of the game in the third period I think I would be using him against the other team’s best line,” said Horachek regarding Trocheck’s debut. “That’s a big step for a young player’s first game.”
The Panthers roster has seen a number of changes in recent weeks including major trades and call ups underscoring the blueprint of faith in their young players.
“It is a bit surreal. It’s a dream come true to be up here and playing in the NHL and to have my family there support me is unbelievable,” said Trocheck.