By Warren Kozireski–
Mercyhurst University senior and Glenmont native Derek Barach used to make two-hour car rides from the Albany area to play bantam hockey with the Westchester Express. Those car rides are now a distant memory with only six games remaining in the final regular season of his collegiate career.
But what a hockey resume. The 5’8”, 165 lb. center is within shouting distance of the best in the Lakers Division I program history for career points and assists.
He was third all-time with 137 career points, four away from tying Scott Champagne (2002-07) for third and was four assists from tying the all-time team mark of 96 set by Louis Goulet (1998-2002). Both are more than doable since he has been averaging exactly one point per game through the first 30 this season.
In fact, that offensive consistency has been evident every year he has worn the Lakers uniform. 32 points in 36 games as a freshman, 37 in 39 as a sophomore and 38 in 37 games in his junior year. This season he had 11 goals and 30 points as one of only four to play in every game this season through the first 30.
“There are certain guys who make an impact from the very first day that they step on campus and he’s one of those guys and there is not a lot of guys who do that,” 31-year Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin said. “The best thing about him is that he is such a competitor. He gets his goals and he gets his assists, but the thing that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet is the way he competes on every shift.
“He kills penalties, he’s on our first power play, he plays heavy minutes, the game is on the line you need a goal, you need to protect a lead, blocks shots and he’s a great leader. I think he’s one of the best players in the league. My only regret is that he’s going to graduate.”
Barach spent the three seasons prior to college with Green Bay in the USHL in 2014-15 and the two years prior split between the Salisbury School and Neponset Valley (MSHL). He put up 53 points in 31 games with the Albany Academy in 2011-12.
In his time with Westchester he was coached by current New Jersey Devil defenseman Steve Santini’s father and the squad was more than a little stacked with other players such as Columbus Blue Jacket first round draft pick Sonny Milano, Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Anthony D’Angello and Chicago Blackhawks right wing John Hayden.
Barach’s father and his pee-wee coach in the capital district, Scott, played for the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers in the early 1980’s. And that hockey DNA has obviously rubbed off as he is now in his third season wearing a letter for the Lakers.
“Every year I pride myself on consistency; I think that’s an attribute that a lot of scouts at the next level look for is to bring your same game night in and night out. When I’m on the ice it’s one hundred percent every time I’m out there and I don’t take a shift off.
“You only have the puck maybe for five minutes of the game out of 60, so I take those minutes pretty seriously and when I’m out there it’s pedal to the metal.”
But the next level needs to wait, and Barach hopes that wait goes at least four weeks into the postseason.
“Only six games left and then hopefully a big playoff run so the year is flying by pretty quickly, but it’s been a hell of a ride,” Barach said in early February. “It’s huge being among the top scorers in Mercyhurst history, but I want to leave my legacy here with a championship. Records are nice to have, but a championship is what I’m looking for.”