Pipeline: Mateychuk making most of small-town roots in dreams chase
Denton Mateychuk didn’t have a lot of options growing up when it came to sports.
Mateychuk, a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft, probably chose right.
“I’m from Dominion City, Manitoba…you probably never heard of it. Not many have. It’s a town of about 300 people,” Mateychuk told Guy Flaming on The Pipeline Show. “Growing up in a small town, those were the two really things that we had was a hockey rink and a baseball diamond.”
The bloodlines run deep for both sports.
His older brother Maddux is at college in Kentucky on a baseball scholarship and his two younger brothers, Kasen and Crosby are both playing hockey.
Even his younger sister, Brylee, who is nine years old, has recently gotten into hockey.
“I’d have to give a huge shout out to my dad,” Mateychuk said. “He was a college baseball player, so that was kinda his strong suit. I had access to the rink all the time and my dad would take me whenever I wanted to go and I think that was something where I developed the love I have for the game.”
So far so good.
Mateychuk was selected 11th overall by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2019 Bantam Draft and feels he has developed well, even with the shortened season last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“My game’s evolved a lot over the last two years,” he said. “I’ve tried to become more of a two way defenseman, play in the offensive situations, but also be able to play that shut down role. I think I’ve tried to implement that into my game and being an all around defenseman and I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far.”
The 5-foot-11, 186 pounds defenseman is not the biggest player at his position, but thinks he still has time to grow.
It’s an intriguing thought, given he’s already widely regarded as a first-round pick.
“I think there could be another inch or two in there. My brother is 6-foot-3 and my dad is about the same as that, so there could definitely be an inch or two there,” he told Flaming.
It definitely hasn’t affected the offensive part of his game. Mateychuk has produced at almost a point-per-game pace this season, putting up a staggering 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) in 45 games.
Mateychuk’s 42 points is best among all draft eligible defenseman in the entire CHL.
However, the third-year Warrior wants to develop other attributes in his game and become a better defender. He wants to be relied on, more than for his offensive abilities.
“I describe myself as a two-way defenseman,” he said. “I like to use my deception a lot on the ice to create space for my teammates, for passing lanes or a shot on net. I think my biggest strengths are my deception and my skating. And I can play in all situations, the power play or penalty kill, and I think that sums up my game.”
The NHL is still the main goal for Mateychuk and he doesn’t let the season rankings affect his game.
“I don’t try to worry about it too much. I’m not gonna change my game because of my rankings,” he said. “The goal is still the same, to play in the NHL. Being drafted is a big part of that, but I also think that playing in the NHL is my end goal. And if I’m drafted in the 4th round, I’m still doing everything in my ability to get there.”
Mateychuk is No. 15 in FCHockey’s Midterm ranking for the 2022 draft, and is slotted No. 9 among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list.
“You have expectations for yourself and you wanna be great and go and play in the NHL. It’s always on your mind that you wanna do well,” he said.
If Mateychuk is selected in the first round of this year’s NHL draft, it will prove that he made the right decision to stick with hockey when growing up.
The 300 residents of Dominion City, Manitoba will be proud either way and it will be a great ending to a story of a small town boy making his dreams come true to hopefully one day play in the NHL.