That is representing your country on the international stage. The 17-year-old son of Julie McNeill and John DesRoches of Days Corner did just that as a member of Team Canada at the 2017 world deaf hockey championships in Amherst, N.Y., recently.
“It was a good experience, and I got to play with people who have the same disabilities as I have,” said DesRoches, who underwent surgery for a cochlear implant at the age of six that allows him to partially hear.
The Grade 12 student at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside was thrilled to carry P.E.I.’s colours with the national team, and admitted pulling on the Canadian jersey for the first time is something he will always remember.
“I got to represent Canada, and it was one of those dreams you have to get to play for Team Canada,” beamed DesRoches. “It was a very emotional feeling.”
A hard-nosed defensive defenceman, DesRoches registered one goal and two assists in five games. Canada went a perfect 4-0 (won-lost) in the round robin, before the United States avenged a 5-2 loss with a 6-3 win in the championship game.
“I am pretty happy to win silver the first time playing in the worlds,” assessed DesRoches. “I did get lots of ice time, and I am very pleased with how I played.”
The left-handed-shooting DesRoches was selected for Team Canada following an identification camp in Kitchener, Ont., in August 2016.
DesRoches, who played for the P.E.I. men’s hockey team at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, spent the first half of the 2016-17 season with the Miramichi Timberwolves of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League). He rejoined the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild of the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League in late December for the second half. He also played the two previous seasons with the Wild, and this year marked his third straight appearance in the Atlantic major midget hockey championship.
Click here for story on brothers Jack and Charlie DesRoches having opportunity to be teammates for first time:
Calibre of play?
When asked to describe the calibre of play at the world championship, DesRoches said it was a combination between what he played in junior A and major midget.
“The hockey was similar as it is with the Wild, but guys were more physical, and there was a lot more hitting,” continued DesRoches. “It was also similar to a junior pace.”
Players as young as 16 are eligible for the world tournament, but DesRoches gained lots of experience competing against older players.
“Most of the players in their tournament were in their 20s, but there were a couple of guys in their 30s,” offered DesRoches, a draft pick of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Charlottetown Islanders. “There was one guy on Finland who was 40.”
DesRoches is eyeing a return to the world deaf hockey championships, and he has his eyes set on competing in the Deaf Olympics.
Countries in 2017 world deaf hockey championships: