Derek Topatigh joins the Tigers after two seasons in the OJHL. The lone defenseman of the class, Topatigh proved he could score while playing for the Orangeville Flyers. Over 113 games, Topatigh netted 67 points. Last season the Ontario native recorded 39 points, a career high. Topatigh represented Canada East in the World Junior A Challenge and scored two points in five games. The defenseman was also named to the CJHL Prospects Game.
Eye On The Tigers spoke with Topatigh to see what the incoming freshman had to say:
Why did you choose Princeton University?
I come from a family that has always been focused and mindful of academics, so as soon as the chance of coming to a school with a renowned academic history like Princeton and play hockey at the same time became an option, it was a very easy decision for me.
What are you most looking forward to?
To me, the game of hockey has always created the strongest bonds of my life so I am most looking forward to just meeting the rest of the guys on the team and having the chance to work alongside them to have the best possible season this team can have.
When did you get into hockey? What’s your earliest memory?
I got into hockey at age three and grew up around the game. My first memory was trying to keep up with my two brothers on the local rink and just being ecstatic that I finally had the chance to go on the ice myself.
What NHL team did you grow up rooting for and why?
Growing up in the Toronto area, I have always been a big Maple Leafs fan. Even though the team has been mediocre in my lifetime, I have always found the idea of an entire city getting behind the home team extremely fun and exciting.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?
Being a defenseman on the shorter side, one thing you get a lot is that your size will prevent you from getting to the next level. To me, I have never found any truth to this argument but it is still something that definitely has been frustrating to hear.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen when playing hockey?
The most shocking thing to me is always when the glass shatters, as it is just so unexpected. I played in two games throughout my career to date in which someone [got] hit through the glass, and it definitely is not something you get used to seeing.
Who’s the most influential person in your hockey career?
My father has been the biggest influence on my hockey career, just with the support he has given me without wavering over the years. He has constantly been willing to help me get better and improve myself and will hop on the ice or the driveway without a second thought.
What’s the most exciting experience you’ve ever had?
This season I had the chance to represent my native country of Canada in the World Junior A Championships, and putting on the maple leaf was most definitely an experience that I will never forget in my life.
What do you plan on majoring in/what are your academic interests?
I am planning on majoring in economics, and while I know I am interested in the finance and business side of things, I am keeping an open mind and not narrowing down my options too much.
What do you hope your legacy at Princeton University will be?
With a few consecutive losing seasons, I think my biggest aspiration is that our freshman class helps to complete the turnaround of the team and give us a chance to contend for a top spot in the ECAC.
Previous Q&A: Jordan Fogarty