Following the end of this year’s season, Mercyhurst men’s ice hockey has found two more successes off the ice for players Joseph Duszak and Derek Barach. Both Duszak and Barach have been signed to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Cleveland Monsters, respectively.
In a huge win for both the players and Mercyhurst, Duszak and Barach will spend the next few years with these NHL and AHL teams.
Duszak is a junior from Franklin Square, NY, who has already traveled to Toronto to begin training there. Duszak and the Leafs have agreed to a two-year future entry-level NHL contract starting in the 2019-2020 season.
Barach is a senior and a native of Glenmont, NY, who has finished his Laker career with 49 goals and 95 assists. His professional contract with the Monsters – an affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets – was signed on March 10.
Men’s hockey head coach Rick Gotkin was happy to celebrate in the success of the players. “We are all very happy and excited for both Derek and Joe. They both have worked very hard on and off the ice to help make their dream of one day playing professional hockey a reality,” Gotkin said. “They are a great example of what you can achieve when you do all the right things everyday and have the commitment and drive to succeed.”
Duszak has recorded 30 goals and 69 assists in 101 games with the Lakers. Currently, he is ranked second in the nation with 1.27 points per game as a defenseman. In Atlantic Hockey, Duszak is first in points per game, assists per game and points per game as a defenseman. Duszak is the third Mercyhurst player in five years to sign an NHL contract.
“It was an unbelievable feeling to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Duszak said. “They are an original six franchise and a first class organization. It is truly an honor and a privilege to try and live out my childhood dream of playing professional hockey with them.”
Barach is a three-time honoree for All-Atlantic Hockey, who was named to the All-AHA Rookie Team as a freshman before moving up to the Second Team in his sophomore and junior years.
Barach was quick to thank all the Mercyhurst coaches for their help and support. “I am very excited to begin my professional career with such a great organization and look forward to showing the coaching staff and players what I can do. Mercyhurst gave me every opportunity to be successful from the minute I stepped on campus and I am extremely grateful for that. I would first like to thank my coaches throughout my college career Rick, Tom, Greg, Joe Mormina and Jon Ronan for preparing me throughout my four years at Mercyhurst for this opportunity with Cleveland,” Barach said.
Duszak, like Barach shared sentiments about the strength of the hockey program. “While I am sad to have my college career end I am extremely excited to prove myself in the professional ranks and show every person who told me I couldn’t make it this far that they had the wrong impression of me,” Duszak said. “I also look forward to seeing the Mercyhurst hockey program continue to grow and am proud to be an alumni of such a great program and university.”
Coach Gotkin commented on the success of both players and the example they can set for others. “This is a testament in that you can go to a small DI hockey program and develop everyday and have the opportunity to play at some of the highest levels of our game,” Gotkin said. “We are truly so happy for both Derek and Joe.”