By Warren Kozireski–
The last time a Mercyhurst Laker led the team in scoring three consecutive seasons was Ben Cottreau in 2005-06 (tied), 2006-07 & 2007-08 until Glenmont’s Derek Barach did the trick in this, his junior season with 36 points on 14 goals and 22 assists. He led the Lakers in his sophomore season with 37 points and as a freshman with 32.
The junior took a team-high 104 shots during the regular season and played in all situations. On Feb 10 he netted to two goals to become just the 21st player in Lakers Division I history to reach the career 100-point mark.
“He’s a great player, really smart, tough in the that he takes a beating and gets hit hard every night and just gets up and keeps playing,” Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin said.
“He keeps it simple, sees the ice well and we had him out there on the right wing (instead of his normal center spot) in the last 30 seconds (protecting a one-goal lead) because he will block a shot. He’s not a big guy, but he plays really big.”
And (wink-wink) his plan all along was to come into Division I hockey and lead his team in scoring in each of his first three seasons.
“You’d like to say so, but I’ve just been put in some great opportunities here and lucky to be playing with some pretty good players every year since I’ve been here, so they make my job easier and I’ve been opportunistic I think,” Barach said after the final game of the regular season.
Barach played one season for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL prior to Mercyhurst. Before that were two years of prep with the Salisbury School (2012-13, 2013-14) and two seasons with Albany Academy (2010-11, 2011-12) where he blossomed in each of his second seasons with the respective program.
Earlier he played bantam major with the Westchester Express.
“They were the first team that really showed a lot of interest in me,” Barach said about Mercyhurst. “They stuck to everything they said to me when they recruited me—we want you come in and be on the power play and be on the top line. They stuck to their word and I’ve taken advantage of the opportunities I’ve been given. I appreciate those but I want to keep going; I have another year here, but this is the year that this team can do something really special.
“I’ve never been scared to be in the corners with guys who are 6’5” and I think that’s what makes my game special. I like being in the corners, I like battling. Ever since recruitment the whole knock on me was that I was only 5’7”, 5’8” and I took that as a chip on the shoulder and I’ve been rolling ever since.
“Scouts were waiting to see if I would grow and I wasn’t growing, so I had to adapt to that and battle.”