Sports

Nobleton’s Pecchia ecstatic for NCAA D1 hockey scholarship

May 6, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Robert Belardi

Sports has a peculiar way of saying patience is a virtue. Years of hard work and little results on paper, might leave you helpless. It may bemoan a player to believe, this is not for them.
When really, it could be. Once you break through the barrier that has stood in your way for so long it might leave others bemused; but not you. Some might say this player is a one-year wonder, but those critics have seemingly viewed their opinion from one perspective. The others, who recognize the tenacity, the grit and the determination through the confines of the numbers are the ones that will give you a call.
Nobleton native Matteo Pecchia’s story is quite like this. He committed in March, to Western Michigan University on a hockey scholarship starting in 2021, to major in finance and minor in sports management.
In his second year with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s (OJHL) Mississauga Chargers, the 19-year-old left-winger was named the OJHL Most Improved Player of the year, leading his team in points with a career-high 50 points in 44 games played.
“This year, I came in with more confidence and was determined to get better each day,” Pecchia said.
His life has always been surrounded by hockey. Since the age of three, he has been on skates. His father; who previously played hockey growing up, never had the opportunity to begin playing the sport at a young age. He wanted to give his son that chance.
At the age of five, Pecchia participated in his first competitive game on ice, beginning his minor hockey career with the NobleKing Knights.
He watched the sport heavily. He became an Edmonton Oilers fan but wanted to mirror his game around his favourite player; Detroit Red Wings centre, Pavel Datsyuk.
“Growing up, I always wanted hands like Datsyuk. I always wanted to be a two-way player like him. I think a role model like that helped me as well.”
Pecchia has always loved playing centre but has spent most of his time on the left wing because of his speed. After three years with the Knights, he moved up to AAA with South Central (now known as Richmond Hill).
Following one season, he went to play AAA in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) where he first joined the Toronto Young Nationals under Nobleton resident head coach Santo Rando.
At the age of 14, while in his bantam year, Pecchia began refereeing for the NobleKing Knights. He wanted to appreciate the game from a different perspective. He continues to referee games and added York Simcoe Express and St. Andrew’s College Saints Varsity games to his officiating resume during his rookie junior season.
He played a total of six years with the Nationals, a total of two years with the Toronto Titans under coaches Brian McLaughlin, former NHLer Darcy Tucker and Jason Nobili before finally making his last pit stop in the GTHL with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens Midget AAA team under Nobleton resident head coach Rick Varone.
It was with the Jr. Canadiens in 2017-2018, that Pecchia was given the green light to be an affiliate for their junior A team in the OJHL under then head coach Jeff Angelidis. It was his first time experiencing 20-minute periods and a completely different style of the game.
In his rookie year in junior hockey in 2018-2019, Pecchia went to play for the North York Rangers the next season, where he played under head coach Geoff Schomogyi.
“I really like Geoff. I really liked his philosophy and I wanted to be coached under him,” Pecchia said.
Pecchia began settling in well but unfortunately after only eight games into his season, he sustained an injury that sidelined him for nearly two months. Returning from his injury became difficult. Pecchia was struggling to find his footing.
At one point, the Rangers were ranked second in the country. With the Rangers, interested in pushing for a national championship, Pecchia was traded to the Mississauga Chargers midway through the year, for the league leading goal scorer, forward Brandon Yeamans.
In 20 games for the Chargers, Pecchia recorded only six points.
That summer, Pecchia aptly sought ways to better himself. Sure, confidence is everything, but he wanted to work on his defensive side of the puck, weight training five times a week and exercising on the ice three times a week.
When the season began in 2019, Pecchia continued his training with Ray LeBlanc and Spencer Wight from S.P.E.E.D HD. LeBlanc would train Pecchia through game video review, on defensive positioning and hockey I.Q that he knew, would give Pecchia the extra edge.
“He taught me how to play smarter hockey without compensating with my speed.”
“Even if you’re training hard, I believe your hockey I.Q and being able to think the game at a higher pace is what gets you to the next level and watching video helps you work on the weaknesses in your game.”
He got his confidence back with the Chargers under head coach Joe Washkurak. Western Michigan University began following him in late September and as Pecchia continued to produce numbers and play exceptional hockey, the Broncos first reached out in January and did not hesitate to offer a scholarship in March.
Pecchia was immediately sold to devote himself to the division one school, because of the reputable hockey program and coaching staff under former NHL head coach Andy Murray.
He was also drawn by the wildly renowned fanbase.
“I’m ecstatic. That’s actually one of the reasons why I fell in love with Western Michigan. The fanbase is so behind the hockey team. They call themselves the Lawson Lunatics, because the Broncos play at Lawson Ice Arena.”
Broncos hockey fans have since reached out to Pecchia, expressing their excitement to watch the youngster play hockey. He believes that this is the best environment to immerse himself in, with the high hopes of one day, making his dream of joining the NHL a reality.
Regardless of what the future holds for Pecchia beyond college hockey, he wants to be a part of the game any way he can. Whether it’s coaching or in management. Hockey is his life and he will fight for a way to be a part of it, on or off the ice.



         

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