The fourth of a 14 part series of quotes and interviews I had stored on my voice recorder which never saw the light of day.
At the end of his college career at Mercyhurt, Derek Barach made the leap from college to the American Hockey League. After the Cleveland Monsters beat the Toronto Marlies to earn a spot in the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs, I sat down with Barach to discuss what it was like to play at a professional level compared to collegiate level.
Elaine Shircliff: You didn’t have the ending you wanted at Mercyhurst this year. So what did it feel like to hop on this team and just ride the playoff train? You kind of help push the playoff train.
Derek Barach: Yeah, for sure. I mean it was good coming here. They gave me a great opportunity and I was very happy to get that opportunity. Obviously, sad to see college end but I didn’t have too much time to think about it honestly. I think college ended on a Saturday and I was here on Monday, and playing the game on Wednesday. It was kind of a quick turnaround but it was something I was grateful for.
Elaine Shirliff: Speak to the people you have been playing with. You hopped in and molded right away.
Derek Barach: I think that that goes towards towards the older guys on the team. Letestu I played with a little bit. Dalps I played with a lot. Those are guys that have played in the NHL so I think communication has been the easiest thing for me. They’re always talking to me, always telling me the places to be what to do and those kind of things and that’s really helpful for a guy trying to come in here only playing 15 or so games compared to their 75. Just the talk on the ice things the biggest difference.
Elaine Shircliff: Typically guys come from college and they’re not as strong and can’t handle taking a hit. But you out muscle many guys who are even a foot taller than you. Was this something you learned at Mercyhurst or did you teach yourself to be that way?
Derek Barach: I think that’s just the mindset that I have. I know I’m a smaller player but I don’t let that affect my game. I like being in the corners. I like battling with it out with bigger guys. I think I use my speed and my center of gravity to my advantage. I just work hard does. One of the things I pride myself on is going out there and trying to be consistent with my game. Hopefully, the coaches know what they’re gonna get from me every single night and I think that’s a good thing.
Elaine Shircliff: What are you hoping to get out of the playoffs and the rest of the season?
Derek Barach: I think it’s just an experience you know. I’ve never played in a seven game or five game series at all. In college it was a three game series and then in juniors I never made playoffs. Obviously, t’s gonna be a bit of a grind but I’m excited for a playoff playoff type atmosphere in Cleveland. With the great fan base that we have it’s going to be wild. It’s something I’m not accustomed to. So, I’m looking forward to it.
Elaine Shircliff: What was that like for you, coming from college to 15,000 people?
Derek Barach: yeah, definitely a lot different. I mean I played college at a small Catholic school with only 3000 students. So, you’re not seeing those numbers at your game but it’s amazing the energy that you get from the crowd and the fan base that we have in Cleveland and they’re awesome. So, it was a lot of fun. Like you said 15,000 people there my first game and I’m sure it’ll be around those numbers for playoffs. So, I’m looking forward to it even more.