Gavin Mattey enjoyed three seasons with his hometown Chase Heat in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Andrea Stelter photos
In Gavin Mattey’s three seasons with the Chase Heat, his skillset got better, his hockey sense improved.
He’s now ready to take the next step with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s La Ronge Ice Wolves. Heat head coach Brad Fox felt the local product was ready this season from a talent standpoint, but not emotionally. Fox recalls Mattey joining the Heat from Chase’s Minor Hockey Tier 4 midget program.
“I knew what he would bring in a level of commitment,” says Fox. “If he was going to do something, he was going to do it to the best of his ability. He had a skillset. He is smart, he had hands. He was fairly quick, but he was small (Fox figures Mattey weighed 145 pounds).
Fox believes players grow at their own rates.
“You can try to progress that along and push it along a little quicker, but because of their own personality, and they’re being who they are, sometimes we have to be patient with them.”
Now, the five-foot-nine, 165-pound forward heads to the next level with what Fox says is an amazing shot – amazing wrist shot, snap shot.
Gavin Mattey in the middle of releasing a shot during KIJHL action this season.
“It’s major league. I bet you he had between 25 and 30 posts and crossbars this year,” says Fox. “He would ring one a game. I bet you he hit three or four posts and two cross bars in the five game series we played.”
This season Mattey established a new career high in goals with 24 in 47 games.
“I don’t care what level you are playing at, he put it exactly where he wanted to put it,” says Fox. “That kind of a shooter. I have not seen anybody have that kind of a release in a long time in this league.”
Mattey, who turns 19 in September, is looking forward to joining the Ice Wolves. Contact with the SJHL organization began during the regular season and heated up as the season progressed, especially in the last month. Mattey spoke with several people he knew receiving nothing but positive responses about the program.
When it came to his play this season, Mattey felt he was solid, but it helped having a strong team. This season was about learning to play against stronger, faster players.
He also loved playing for the hometown fans saying the crowds were “pretty cool” for three years. After joining the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League from Tier 4, he discovered that everything happens quicker in the league.
Fox knows Mattey is ready, but added he could have played this past season, but wasn’t ready emotionally. Playing in the KIJHL at 16 helped Mattey a lot, especially being on the ice every day and watching video.
“It was a real opportunity to learn what the game is like in junior,” he says.
Now he gets his shot to learn the junior A game.