One of the real treats of life in the AHL is the surprises that it can provide. There are roster shake-ups all the time and it can often require the services of players from outside the organization. When players are signed to professional try-out (PTO) contracts in the AHL it becomes a two-fold process. The team is getting an extra body in on loan from an ECHL based team but the player is getting to audition their on-ice résumé to show that they belong in the next level. Matt White was the pleasant surprise a season ago. Derek Army has been that story this season.
Army comes from a terrific hockey family. His grandfather, Tom, played for Providence College. His father, Tim, played for Providence College but also has a high level coaching career that has seen him be the assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals, and has been with the Colorado Avalanche since the 2011-12 season. He has also been the head coach with USA Hockey and his alma mater. His uncle, Bill, played at Boston College. And his brother, Tim, played NCAA Division III hockey with Stonehill College.
As you might suspect then Derek’s path was always leading to this sport. He, like many in his family, turned to Providence College where he enjoyed a four-year collegiate career. He played 149 games and recorded 76 points (38 goals, 38 assists). He would join the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL following the conclusion of his college career and that would be his main base of operations for numerous cracks at breaking into the AHL scene.
In his first full season of pro hockey Army would make the ECHL All-Rookie Team. He produced 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 72 games which set the stage for a 2015-16 season that would have him entering four different AHL organizations on PTO basis. He played more games in the AHL (36) than he did in Wheeling of the ECHL (29) despite all the fluctuation of playing with the Portland Pirates, Ontario Reign, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and Texas Stars.
This season Army is approaching the 50/50 area of ECHL and AHL time. The different between last season and this one is he has found an AHL home with the Milwaukee Admirals. He was brought into the group in early December with the roster in a state of flux as the Nashville Predators were rattled by injury. That stint only lasted a week but he was brought right back in January and has yet to return to the ECHL. His time right now with the Admirals is the longest sustained time in the AHL of his career.
Cheers to Derek Army for taking the time to chat after practice last week. I wish those Wheeling Nailers fans let the world know sooner of how good of a hockey player and personality this guy is! Next in Fifteen is really dependent on who you want to hear from next. There are still plenty of players yet to be featured. Who do you want to hear from? Hit the comment section below with your suggestions.
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