Monday, January 16, 2012

Edmond Outlook Article about Matt Donovan

Here's a look at a recent Edmond Outlook Magazine Article about NY Islanders Prospect & Edmond Native Matt Donovan as he looking to be on the door step of making his NHL Debut later this season. In addition to this article which was written by Nathan Winfrey, they was also a Q&A that Freelance Writer Terry Hull did for the December Issue of the Oklahoma Magazine.

Also in addition, here's what Hockey's Future has to say about Donovan midway through his 1st AHL Season so far.

Donovaon is playing in his 1st full season with Bridgeport. At the end of last season he decided to bypass his final two years with the University of Denver after a stellar sophomore season. In six games last season he set the bar very high for himself after posting five points in those games. In 39 games so far this season he has posted 22 points (4G 18A).

For being an offensive minded defensemen he has great size. He is built like a rock, and has a great shot from the point. Though he weighs 200 pounds, he has never been known as a physical player, but uses his long reach to his advantage. Speed has always been a problem for him, but remains a mobile skater. With more experience in Bridgeport he has the chance to be a very serviceable puck moving defensemen for the Islanders, in a mold similar to Pittsburgh Penguin Paul Martin.

Here's the Edmond Outlook Article by Nathan Winfery

Here's the Link to the Matt Donovan Q&A

It's no surprise to hear of a local sports star going pro. Oklahoma grows tremendous athletes - people who rack up gold medals and win national championships - and Oklahomans love hometown hero's who achieve the international spotlight. However, when Edmond native Matt Donovan was drafted to a professional league in 2008, he made history.

At age 18, Donovan was drafted by the National Hockey League, an extremely rare occurrence for an Oklahoman. Born and raised in a state with a climate disagreeable for skating on frozen ponds, the defensemen  was selected by the New York Islanders in the fourth round.

The list of other Oklahomans in the NHL's history is a short one. Tyler Arnason, who plays for the Chicago Blackhawks in the AHL is the only other player and he was born here. Arnason grew up in Canada.

Donovan is currently assigned to the Islanders top AHL Affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He explains that the way the drafting system works is not like football, but more like baseball. For a hockey player, being drafted isn't a sure ticket to fay paychecks and lucrative product endorsement's. Hockey Players have to work their way up.

While Donovan's eyes are set on becoming a full time NHL Player, he's more then just biding time with the Sound Tigers. When he joined the team last spring, he had time for just six games with them before the season ended in April. In the off-season he got to know his teammates and when he started the new season in October, after joining the Islanders for three pre-season games, he returned as an even more invested Sound Tiger. "It's awesome knowing all the guys now," he said. "We've got a good group of guys so it's been fun so far."

Donovan hopes to help the Sound Tigers, named after the Long Island Sound, win games and make it to the playoffs. Plus, he hopes to be called up to play at least one game with the Islanders this season. His team members are mostly from the Northern U.S. States, Canada and countries like Russia, Finland & Sweden - places known for perpetual cold weather. "Everyone gets along. It's fun to hear all the different languages," he says.

Apart from being the only Okie, he's also one of the youngest on the team. "We've got a pretty young team," says the now 21 year old. The oldest player is 30 and Donovan values the experience of the guys who have some years on him. Some have been playing pro hockey for a decade. "They're veterans," he says. Donovan grew up with hockey in a way few Oklahomans have had the privilege. Over the years, his dad helped run an ice skating rink in Bethany, Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Edmond and the Blazers Ice Center, which meant much of Donovan's formative years were spent near on the ice. "It was pretty easy getting into hockey," he recalls. "I've loved it ever since I started."

As a freshman at Edmond North High School, Donovan played AA Hockey for the OKC Junior Blazers. When he was 16, he moved to Dallas and played AAA Hockey for the Dallas Stars Elites. He finished his high school career in Iowa, playing for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the United States Hockey League (USHL). There, he was named to the USHL All Rookie Team.

His college career consisted of two seasons with the University of Denver Pioneers, after which came his historic NHL Draft. Another career landmark came in January 2010 when Donovan won a Gold Medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Canada.

Now living in Connecticut, ice is easier to come by than it was in Oklahoma, but he misses his family and friends in Edmond. "I grew up there and know everything around there," he said. Donovan picks the ocean as the biggest difference between his dry home state and where he has been transplanted, and it will be a while before he's home again for a significant length of time. The Sound Tigers are well into the new season and Donovan is optimistic. "It's going well so far," he says. "It's awesome to be drafted. I hope it proves to kids in Oklahoma playing hockey that they can make it to the NHL."

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