Troy Vance’s journey to major junior hockey was anything but routine.
When the Dallas Stars’ draft pick was 17 years old when he started the season in junior B near his hometown Middletown, N.Y. He was there for a month before moving up to junior A for another month when a break changed his hockey path forever.
“Dallas saw me, had one of their Q scouts come down and take a look at me,” Vance explained. “He watched two games and I ended up playing probably the best two games I’ve played so far.”
The big blue-liner received an invitation for a 48-hour skate with the Victoriaville Tigres and was signed within two days.
“It was pretty crazy,” Vance said. “The year before I had been playing midget AA.”
It was a big adjustment for the big defenceman. He was not just leaving home for the first time, he was going to a new country in a predominant French-speaking community.
“It was literally one world to another. There was not one similarity between the two.”
But Vance never thought about leaving, as it was an opportunity to follow his dream.
“I sort of grew up with a stick in my hand,” he said. “I don’t think there was a day where I wasn’t on the ice or playing street hockey in the backyard or ball hockey in the basement.”
Vance played two-and-a-half seasons in Victoriaville before being traded to the P.E.I. Rocket at the end of last year’s Christmas trade window. He is enjoying his time on the Island and even showed some humour when asked about living in Charlottetown.
“I love it,” he said. “You can order Subway in English.”
But seriously, he added, there are many positives about being part of the Islanders organization.
“The staff here is amazing. I have learned so much,” he said. “Dallas has a scout (Shane Turner) in town, too, so if ever I need anything or want to hear any feedback, positively or negatively, you can just give him a call.”
Islanders coach Gordie Dwyer said the six-foot-five, 220-pound defenceman is a big man with skill.
“He can play physical. He’s got an offensive upside to him and he’s reliable defensively,” he said. “With most players his age, it’s developing that consistency and I think that’s one thing Troy is working on this year.”
His size — Vance has always been among the tallest players on his hockey teams — provides him with a long reach that is useful in knocking the puck away from players looking to score.
“The skill level that he has, the size that he has and the strength he has is certainly top notch,” Dwyer said.
Vance wants to continue to improve his game, including his play in the defensive zone, making quicker passes and pushing himself out of his comfort zone. He was drafted by the Stars in 2011 and has a three-year entry level contract that starts once he plays his first professional game.
He’s not worried about that right now, noting “then you start losing sight of what it takes to get there.”
u Who – A defenceman with the Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL).
u Hometown – Middletown, N.Y.
u Age – 20.
u Size – Six-foot-five, 220 pounds.
u Acquired – The P.E.I. Rocket traded Carl Chenier, Mark Trickett and a third-round pick in the 2014 draft to Victoriaville for Vance and a fifth-round selection in 2014 draft on Jan. 8, 2013.
u NHL – Drafted by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round (135 overall) in 2011.
u Statistics -
Season GP G A Pts
2010-11 23 1 3 4
2011-12 57 4 20 24
2012-13 67 4 22 26
2013-14 24 3 9 12
u The Charlottetown Islanders will host the Moncton Wildcats tonight at 7.
u The third-place Wildcats (15-17-0-2) are two points ahead of the Islanders (13-16-1-3) in the Maritimes Division standings.
u The Islanders are currently on an eight-game losing skid.
u They host the Saint John Sea Dogs on Friday at 7 p.m.