MASSENA - If the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers face the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs again in the next few years, Philly could have a north country native skating for them.
Matt Hatch, a 2008 Massena Central High School graduate signed a contract with the Flyers American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, earlier this week, just two weeks ahead of his college graduation.
Mr. Hatch was a key member of the NCAA champion Union College Dutchmen and finished his senior season fifth on the squad in goals scored.
“It’s exciting that this happened before graduation, and I am glad I have a home now,” he said. “It’s all kind of been slowly winding down. I signed with them on Monday. It’s been an awesome experience. It’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, and I am really excited.”
He began playing hockey at the age of four on a makeshift outdoor rink outside his Ober Street home, according to his parents.
Matt’s mother, Tina, is a lab employee at Massena Memorial Hospital and his father, Brian, is retired from his work as a heavy equipment operator at Reynolds Metal Company.
The Economics major was a tri-captain of the 2008 Massena High School state championship squad and joined Union in 2010 after a stint in junior hockey in British Columbia.
“This is his dream come true and dreams do come true. If you really work hard then dreams can come true. It took a lot of work,” Brian said. “We were completely ecstatic (when we found out).”
Being an undrafted free agent, Matt would have to sign a NHL contract in order to play for the Flyers.
He is not the first Dutchman to make his way into the Philadelphia organization.
His teammate, Shayne Gostisbehere, was signed by the NHL team shortly after their championship in April.
“From what I gather, (the scouts) really were impressed with him. The Flyers had another player who graduated from Union. They came and told him that they’ve been watching him all year,” Brian said. “We are on cloud nine here on Ober Street. Our phones have been ringing off the hook and our cell phone batteries are dying. We’ll need to get more batteries for sure.”
Matt said that following graduation he will be coming back to Massena and working with his trainer in Ottawa.
In September, the 24-year-old will be going to training camp either in Allentown or Philadelphia.
“After the season I thought I would still be playing hockey but I never knew something like this would happen,” Matt said. “Philadelphia had a draft pick on our team as well so I knew something like this could happen. I knew that they were looking at certain guys. I never knew that it was personally me though.”
Alex Boak, a fellow North Athletic Conference standout during his years at Norwood-Norfolk and a 2014 graduate of Clarkson University, made his professional debut this spring skating for the Wheeling Nailers of the East Coast Hockey League.