SYDNEY RIVER: A former Port Hawkesbury resident has been ranked as a prospect in the upcoming Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) draft.
Ranked in the 13th round, Whelan Matthews said he hoped to rank higher, but he’s honoured nonetheless.
“I was hoping for probably a little better, but in general, it was a great accomplishment to make it on the list in the first place, so I’m very happy,” Matthews told The Reporter. “It’s always good to have extra motivation, but it’s nice to be recognized at all.”
The 6’1”, 195 pound Matthews was ranked in the 2019 draft and the 17-year-old played in the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League last season for the Cape Breton Tradesmen.
“We had a pretty good year last year,” Matthews said. “This year, we didn’t rank as high as we would but we had a young team and we still developed a lot.
“It was disappointing… it was a good season, great coaching, great coaching, just unfortunate where we ended up.”
Matthews describes himself as a stay-at-home defenseman who can block shots, shut down the other team’s top scorer, and can play a big role on the penalty kill.
“I’d definitely describe myself as a big shut-down defenseman who blocks a lot of shots and can be trusted by the coach on the [penalty kill],” he noted.
The blueliner said he hopes to be drafted by either the Cape Breton Eagles or Moncton Wildcats.
“I’d like to go to any team really, but if I had to pick I’d go with the Eagles or the Wildcats,” he said. “They’re both great organizations in the Maritimes, on top of that.”
Matthews grew up in Port Hawkesbury and moved in 2011 while in Novice. He returned to the region to play for the Major Nova Bantams, but now resides in Sydney River and attends Riverview High School.
“I actually came back for Bantam, I played my second year of Major Bantam in Port Hawkesbury for the Novas,” he recalled. “It was definitely pretty different. It was a bit of a challenge too but I liked it, travelling every day from here to Antigonish and Port Hawkesbury for practices. It was a great experience.”
In addition to friends, Matthews added he still has an aunt and uncle in Port Hawkesbury, and he remains close to the Strait area.