Vince Trocheck moved to Detroit from Pittsburgh when he was 13 to further his hockey career.
But looking back, he believes the developmental system in the Pittsburgh area has developed to a point where youth hockey players in Western Pennsylvania won’t have to go elsewhere to get exposure.
“Growing up, I always thought you wouldn't get the looks of NHL teams and scouts like that living in Pittsburgh,” he said. “But I definitely think, looking back on it now, that as long as you’re working hard you’re going to be seen no matter where you are.”
Trocheck is part of what’s set to potentially be the best-ever draft class to come out of the Steel City, as a total of six Pittsburgh-area prospects may be selected at the NHL Entry Draft on June 24-25.
He is ranked No. 43 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and No. 69 overall (including goalies) on the Red Line Report, an independent scouting service.
The 5-foot-11, 178-pound forward recently finished an impressive season with Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), his second with the team. Trocheck recorded 62 points (26G-36A) in 69 games while playing on the Spirit’s top line with Gibsonia native Brandon Saad.
“What I like about him is that he’s a really intelligent, smart player in all three zones,” said Kyle Woodlief, chief scout and publisher of the Red Line Report. “He’s got really good hockey sense and he plays a very high-energy, determined game.”
Trocheck grew up in Upper St. Clair and still lives there with his family during the offseason, working out at the Ice Castle Arena in Castle Shannon during the summers with Whitehall native John Gibson, the No. 1-ranked North American goaltender on Central Scouting’s list.
Trocheck, who played for the SHAHA Panthers, Pittsburgh Predators and Pittsburgh Hornets growing up, hails from the same city that former Penguin Ryan Malone is from.
And the banner at the Ice Castle honoring the current Tampa Bay forward has always given Trocheck a boost when he sees it to inspire him to think, “Maybe that could be me one day.”
“It’s definitely motivation,” Trocheck said of seeing players from the Pittsburgh area like Malone go on to have successful NHL careers. “It seems like more and more kids are coming out of Pittsburgh now and I think a lot of it has to do with past success of players from Pittsburgh.”
But Trocheck also grew up watching the legendary Mario Lemieux during the early years of his amateur career before idolizing stars like Sidney Crosby
, Evgeni Malkin
, Jordan Staal
– and his own favorite Penguin, Maxime Talbot.
In fact, they’re really the reason he got started playing in the first place.
“Nobody in my family played hockey, but my dad liked watching it,” he said. “I used to watch it with him and I guess I’d imitate all the guys on the ice, so he figured he’d put some skates on me and bring me to the rink.”
Trocheck pointed out the influence that those current Penguins have had on sparking interest in the game over the past few years.
“Hockey has definitely grown a lot, in Pittsburgh especially, and I think it has a lot to do with the Penguins and their growth and how good they’re getting,” he said. “I think a lot of kids are starting to develop a liking towards hockey because of the success of the Penguins, and I think it has a big impact on a lot of the kids. I think every year it gets more and more kids from Pittsburgh are showing up on NHL teams’ radars.”
Trocheck, who is currently at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto, Ontario (which wraps up Saturday), is working as hard as he can to leave the best impression that he can on NHL teams before the draft rolls around in hopes of boosting his stock as high as possible.
“Work ethic is what NHL teams like to see, so I’ve been doing my best ever since Day 1 to try to continue to make myself better,” he said.WATCH
– VINCE TROCHECK'S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PENS TV: