Marlboro, MA - Johnny DeRoche, despite being one of the youngest players in the USPHL 18U division was named league MVP this past weekend. The award, voted by the league's coaches, caps a great season for the forward from Lynnfield, MA who was among league leaders in goals, assists and points en route to an 18U Northern Division title and a playoff run that fell just short of the championship game.
DeRoche, in his third full season with the B's first came to the program as a mite playing on the '98 AAA tournament team. He spent his youth hockey playing the EHF for the Islanders HC. He spent the last two seasons on the B's 16U team playing for coach Topher Bevis. In his first season with the 16's, again as one of the youngest in the league and coming off his bantam minor season, he led the team in scoring, was a USPHL All Star and led the EJEPHL in scoring. In that first season he had a 37-55-92 line.
"Johnny, who might have been 5'4" and 140 pounds in his first year with us, had such a great season that he started to get the attention of division 1 college coaches toward the middle and end of the season. He could have been playing 14U, but he was ready to make the jump to the 16 level and really be pushed," Bevis commented. "You could see it was the right move and level for him early on, he flourished." In his second season with the 16's his production jumped to 51 goals-75 assists-126 points.
Early in the 2013-2014 season, his second with the 16's, he accepted a full scholarship to national power Quinnipiac University. It was this second season with the B's that he turned a corner in his game and went to a new level. "You could see it, early in his second year with the 16's, that the experience, minutes played, schedule and work he put in during his first year was really paying off," Bevis continued. "He was always an elite player and talent, but you could see, week to week that he just kept improving and becoming a more dominant player."
He was once again named a USPHL All Star and led the team in scoring with government-a-pts totals. With still another year being eligible to play at the 16U level, he was moved up to the 18U level for this season. Once again DeRoche was one of the youngest in the league and ready to prove himself at a new level.
"Johnny was one of the players we targeted and went after hard at the '98 level," 18U coach Chris Masters commented. "Since his first days with our '98 AAA summer team he was a player we wanted to get on our full season teams. It used to be that we needed to offer the bantam minor players a spot on what is now our 18U team because we didn't have a 16U team, players like Jack Eichel (NTDP/BU), Conor Garland (leading scorer in the QMJHL), Josh Couturier (BC), Frankie Vatrano (NTDP/U-Mass), Brian Morgan (Maine), Kevin McKernan (Quinnipiac), Zach Todd (Mercyhurst), Danny Federico (Quinnipiac), Colin Shea (U-Mass), Mike Cichy (NTDP/North Dakota), Joey Lavin (NTDP/Notre Dame), Edwin Shea (BC) and Stevie Moses (UNH/KHL) to name a handful. Now, with our 16U team, those elite players finishing their bantam minor year can now jump to our 16U team like Johnny did three years ago and continue to get the elected development and full season training like they did as youth players in the EHF."
DeRoche's answer to the challenge of playing at the 18U level was to lead the team in all offensive categories, a top 5 scorer in the league, USPHL All Star (for the third year in a row) and be named the league MVP.
"When you look around the league and see how many elite players there are, even similarly committed college players, who are a year or two older than Johnny, is really a testament to the player he is," Masters continued. "He has all the attributes that we have seen in elite players, especially ones that join us in their bantam major year. His skill, attitude, skating, work ethic and compete level are all at an elite level. He also has the commitment to the game and making himself a better player. It's not easy to make the commute he does each day for practice, it takes about 45 minutes each way from his home to the rink. Same as players like Eichel, Morgan and others who made the sacrifices of long car rides to practice feeling this is what is best for their development."
This past weekend in Foxboro during playoffs, USPHL Deputy Commisioner Jack Sweeney, presented DeRoche with his MVP award. He will have another challenge in front of him next season as he joins the B's Premier team.
"It is an honor to be recognized by the league. There are so many other deserving players that this award could have been given to" DeRoche commented. "I want to thank my teammates and coaches for all their support because this award is a reflection of all their hard work and effort as well."