Karch Bachman became the first player to be drafted straight from Culver Military Academy by a National Hockey League team since the institution of the National Development Team Program by USA Hockey in 1996. Bachman ’15 (Wolcottville, Ind.) was taken in the fifth round of the NHL Draft Saturday by the Florida Panthers.
Bachman was at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., when his name was called by the hometown Panthers. “I can’t even describe it,” Bachman told the Florida Sun-Sentinel, “It almost brings tears to my eyes, especially here in Florida being drafted by the Panthers.
“It was something special walking around the arena and instead of hearing silence you’re hearing cheers.”
He is the 26th CMA player to be drafted. Nine have advanced to play in the NHL and three were Olympians: Gary Suter ’82, John Michael Liles ’99, and Ryan Suter ’01. The 18-year-old, 5-foot-10 left wing, who played internationally on the U.S. U18 team, was ranked 87th by the NHL Central Scouting Service.
Bachman’s love of hockey came from his father, Kurt, an attorney for the Fort Wayne Komets, where Panthers coach Gerard Gallant served as an assistant in 1999.
Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon said Bachman was one of the fastest skaters in the draft; “he can fly.” His CMA background also carries weight with Florida team owner Vinnie Viola, a West Point graduate.
“I come from hard work and discipline,” said Bachman, who was the fifth high school player selected in the 2015 draft at that point. He will play for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL next season and then Miami University (Ohio), where he hopes to add muscle and weight to his frame. He scored 19 goals and accumulated 43 points over the Prep team’s 32-game schedule.