International Ice Hockey Federation

Matheson making his mark

Matheson making his mark

Canada D-man is exceptional

Published 14.05.2016 02:32 GMT+3 | Author John Sanful
Matheson making his mark
ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - MAY 12: Canada's Michael Matheson #7 during preliminary round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Four months ago, Michael Matheson was playing in the American Hockey League. Now he’s competing for a chance at a World Championship gold medal.

Canada is undefeated at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and hoping to stay that way through the Preliminary Round. With a deep roster that is clicking at the right time, Canada has distinguished itself as a medal contender in Russia.

Even with so many key individual contributors, Michael Matheson really stands out. Matheson is tied with Cody Ceci for the team lead in scoring by defencemen. He has two goals and five points and a plus/minus of +9, all while averaging just over fourteen minutes of ice time.

“I think as a team we have to stay the course and keep things simple and stay within ourselves,” Matheson said. “That’s what I’m trying to do with my game and in helping this team.”

Drafted by the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft, Matheson has come a long way in a short time. After captaining the Boston College Eagles, Matheson turned pro in 2015.

This season he saw action in 54 games for the Portland Pirates before the Panthers called him up. He played three games in the regular season and then five in the playoffs after he was inserted into the lineup for Game Two of their series with the New York Islanders.

“It was a tight series and we played really well,” Matheson said of his first NHL playoff experience. “If you look at the fact that we went into overtime three times and lost all three you realize those games could have gone either way.”

Even after the Panthers were eliminated from the playoffs, Matheson’s season was not over. The call came from Hockey Canada and he was invited to play for his home country.

“It was a huge surprise to be named to the team and a huge honour to be able to come to this tournament and play for Team Canada,” the Quebec native Matheson said. “With the season I had, I was mostly in the minors and you definitely don’t expect to get a call like that. Again, it is a huge honour.”

Now, a week into the tournament, Canada is playing a high level of hockey that, if kept up and improved in some areas, bodes well for playoff round success. What has turned into a whirlwind last few months for Matheson now has a chance to end playing for a medal.

With his close of season performance and what is happening here, Matheson is expected to compete for a starting spot with Florida next year. Should he make the team, he will be joining a young roster that is improving and a blueline corps that includes Aaron Ekblad, who won gold with Canada at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in the Czech Republic.

That Dale Tallon is here as a member of the USA Hockey management team, only further assures that Matheson is getting a look from the general manager who drafted him and who more than likely is enjoying what he sees from the 22-year-old.

“I think it is all about consistency. I thought I had a good stint in the playoffs with Florida so it is important to play well here too. I need to keep that consistency level and have a good summer and then go into training camp and play well again and hopefully I can make the team out of camp.”

 

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