Arizona Rubber

Arizona’s and New Mexico’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey

Editor’s Column: The Auston Matthews NHL Draft watch has started

 

Former Arizona Bobcats AAA forward Auston Matthews, a player that many believe will be the No. 1 pick in next June’s NHL Entry Draft, had a decision to make after playing the 2014-15 season with the U.S. National Team Development Program’s (NTDP) Under-18 Team.

Would be commit to a powerhouse NCAA school or go play Major Junior hockey in the Western Hockey League? Matthews pulled a bit of a swerve by announcing this offseason that he is going to play for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League A – the top professional league in Switzerland.

Matthews was born on Sept. 17, 1997, and only missed the deadline for the 2015 NHL draft by two days. Now, he’ll be playing against grown men in Switzerland for a team coached by ex-NHL bench boss Marc Crawford.

Is this a smart move for Matthews? We’ll know that answer next June in Buffalo, N.Y., but my guess is that it works out nicely for the Scottsdale native.

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Philip Knies, an alum of the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes and Arizona Bobcats AAA programs, and Jr. Coyotes product Michael Boyle recently made their NCAA Division I college hockey commitments for the future.

Both will play in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference as Knies has chosen to play for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, while Boyle will be off to the University of Denver.

Knies and Boyle are also likely to start the 2015-16 season playing Junior A hockey with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League.

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The Arizona Coyotes call Gila River Arena their home rink and for six games this upcoming season, Arizona State’s new NCAA Division I team will skate out of the venerable arena.

ASU plays the University of Arizona’s American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) team on Oct. 3 before hosting the Desert Hockey Classic Jan. 8-10 with the Sun Devils joining the University of Connecticut, Yale University and Michigan Tech University in a four-team tournament. Then on Feb. 28, ASU will play the NTDP’s Under-18 Team.

“The partnership between Sun Devil athletics and the Arizona Coyotes gives our student-athletes the experience of competing in a top-tier NHL facility in Gila River Arena,” said Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson. “The partnership also provides immense exposure for the growth and development for the sport of hockey at all levels in Arizona and on the West Coast.”

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The Northern Arizona University hockey golf outing at Aspen Country Club in Flagstaff is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 16.

The event will also feature a silent auction with all proceeds going to the NAU hockey club. A motorcycle will also be raffled as part of the day’s festivities.

Following golf, NAU’s ACHA Division II team will play ASU’s ACHA D-II team at the Jay Lively Ice Arena.

Cost of the golf outing is $125.00 per player or $500 per foursome. For more information, email Keith Johanson at keith@emcaz.com.

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In a feel-good story from the Arizona hockey community, Behind The Mask’s BTM Recycle Initiative recently donated over 200 pairs of skates, plus bags and bags of player and goalie gear to programs all across the state.

“It was a great success and we owe John Jay Hinnant at Oxypow a huge shout out for cleaning all the gear for free,” said BTM’s Randy Exelby.

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This past summer, Nick Boyarsky took an inline team of 2001 and 2002 birthdates to the State Wars event in St. Peters, Mo., and placed third in the 2001 A division.
The event ran from July 29-Aug. 9.

“It was a great effort all around,” said Boyarsky. “They did exceptionally well playing six games in four days with a six-man man roster.”

Contact Matt Mackinder at matt@rubberhockey.com