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RECRUIT PROFILE: Maple Leafs draft pick Nick Mattinen commits to Gee-Gees men’s hockey

Photo: Ian Goodall.
Photo: Ian Goodall.

A local product with a size, skill, and pro-level experience — Nick Mattinen is the latest addition to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees men's hockey team ahead of the 2019-20 season. 

As the tallest Gee-Gee on the roster at 6-6, Mattinen is an intimidating force for opponents on the ice physically, and makes contributions at both ends of the ice.

"I like to take care of my defensive zone. I pride myself on my good first pass, if there's an opportunity to jump in on the rush I do so," said Mattinen. "I use my shot as a weapon out there, get pucks quick on net to get tipped or generate rebounds." 

Associate coach Brent Sullivan describes Mattinen as a player the fits the exact mold of what the staff looks for — a skilled player that can play with pace.

"It's a bonus to have, when you have a guy with the skill set like his put in the frame of his," he said.

Mattinen grew up in Orleans, Ont. and spent the formative years of his hockey career with the Eastern Ontario Wild, before making the jump to Junior A with the Cumberland Grads.

A four-year OHL career featured stops in London, Flint, Hamilton, and Oshawa. Mattinen won OHL Championships with London in 2016, Hamilton in 2018, and appeared in four games at the 2018 Memorial Cup.

In committing to the University of Ottawa, Mattinen cited coming home to continue his hockey career as a significant factor.

"Moving away at 16 or 17 years old, being away from friends and family is tough, I found," he explained. "The opportunity to come back home, be closer to family and friends, still enjoy the game I love to play while getting an education was huge." 

On the academic side, Mattinen plans on studying Human Kinetics. 

"Nick came to us with a lot of university courses already done, and an objective as far as what he wanted to graduate with in a degree and what his career path could be," Sullivan added.

Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016, Mattinen attended development camps alongside invitee and current Gee-Gees goaltender Anthony Brodeur. In 2017, Mattinen attended Leafs' Development and Rookie Camp once more, and went on to attend Ottawa Senators Rookie Camp in 2018.

Earlier this off-season, Mattinen skated at the Dallas Stars' 2019 Development Camp and will return for their Rookie Camp later this month.

"He's been through the draft, been to development camps, he's been on the ice with pro's. He carries himself like a professional, it's a nice add to the dressing room," Sullivan said.

From his experiences at the NHL level, Mattinen found heightening his attention to details as the biggest takeaway.

"You look around the room and see Jaime Benn working out, the little things he does to warm-up and prepare his body to compete. The coaching staff with the video they do, the attention to detail in drills too," he said.  "You can't overlook any little aspect the coaches ask you to do."

The 2019-20 edition of the Gee-Gees men's hockey team will first hit the ice on Aug. 31 as part of a three-game exhibition trip to Germany. 

The first and only home game during the preseason is slated for Sept. 21 against the University of Toronto. Tickets will go on sale later this month at tickets.geegees.ca