No Razorback Hockey alum has ever gotten a professional hockey opportunity–until now. Former Ice Hog Garth Derry received a training camp invitation from the 1000 Islands Privateers in Watertown, New York, after completing the Federal Hockey League’s free agent camp this past weekend. The three day event, held in Syracuse, New York from August 9-11, featured pro hopefuls from around the nation who were assigned to one of four teams. Each player played in three games and participated in one practice–all of which were were monitored by FHL general mangers, scouts, and coaches.
Derry played in two games for team red, which games both resulted in victories by 10-3 and 15-5 scores respectively. During the games, Derry logged time both as a defenseman and left wing. He was moved to the team blue roster for Sunday morning’s game. Although blue lost by a lopsided 7-1 score, Derry potted his team’s lone goal.
Derry received significant attention from Razorback fans all weekend long on the team’s social media sites. With the weekend behind him, Derry recognized the fans’ effort, noting “[i]t means a tremendous amount.” Derry also took the time to answer questions about his most recent tryout experience and how it relates to his past experiences with the Razorback Hockey program.
Razorback Hockey: What experiences as a Razorback hockey player prepared you for this next level?
Garth Derry: I cannot single out any experiences; instead I would rather draw from my entire experience with Razorback Hockey. I definitely owe a lot to this program, more than I can explain. Coach Desjardins recruited me to play for the program after my freshman year at St. Louis University. It was probably the best decision I have ever made. Razorback hockey is truly a family that consists of players, coaches, trainers, and fans. The program is extremely supportive of all its members and helps them reach their potential in all facets of life, not just hockey. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.
I have taken away many things that have prepared me for both hockey at the next level and life. I think the biggest thing I took away from my time with Razorback hockey was the mentality the program and Coach Gallini instilled in me. Consistent with the theme, the mentality that I am alluding to calls for controlling what I can. The most pertinent factors being attitude, work ethic, and compete level. The work hard and “never quit” attitude has changed from an option to an intrinsic obligation for me. It seems so easy and something everyone should automatically do but it does not work like that. The easy part is saying it; the hard part is doing it, giving your all every single time.
RH: How did you feel going into the games during the tryout?
GD: It was my first professional hockey camp. I was extremely anxious in the days leading up to camp and up to my first game. I had no idea what to expect at camp. I just skated as hard as I could and everything took care of itself. I controlled what I could control and did not worry about anything else. I felt more and more comfortable as camp went on.
RH: Have your past tryout experiences adequately prepared you for the FHL tryouts?
GD: They definitely helped me but it was a completely novel experience. This was the first tryout of my career that I had no clue what to expect or how I was going to measure up. I felt like I was adequately prepared for anything though. I maintained a “never quit” mentality and worked hard. I focused on the little things rather than trying to do too much. My attitude, work ethic, and compete level were the centerpieces of my game. I did not have a great game two but focused on those three things the next game and I controlled what I could. I did not worry about the pressure of the tryout, I just played hockey.
RH: How are you preparing for the upcoming training camp with the Watertown Privateers?
GD: I am right back at it. I am continuing to train mentally and physically. I am getting bigger, stronger, and faster to meet the physical demands of the FHL. I am honing my skills working with Cosmo Clarke, a Dallas area coach, and professional hockey players, learning as much as possible. My biggest focus is getting into the best shape I possibly can. I need to go into main camp in game shape in order to have a chance at making the cut. The competition will be undoubtedly better and fiercer at main camp than I was previously exposed to at the Syracuse camp.