DU's Boomer Sooner On The Blueline

(above) Matt Donovan looks to add to his trophy case
by Ryan Aber

The question doesn’t bother Matt Donovan.

He’s used to hearing people asking him, “You’re from where?”

Being a hockey player from Oklahoma who aspires to — and has within his grasp — play at the game’s top level draws plenty of strange looks and plenty of questions.

Matt Donovan Edmond native

“I don’t get it as much now as I used to,” said Donovan, a sophomore defenseman at the University of Denver. “People know me a bit better now and know my story more after the World Juniors last year.

“It’s kind of fun to tell people I’m from Oklahoma, though. There are not many people in this game who can say that, and I’m proud of it.”

The Edmond native and his Denver Pioneers start the NCAA Midwest Regional at 2 p.m. today against Western Michigan in Green Bay, Wis. The game can be seen online at ESPN3.com.

If Denver wins, it will face the winner of top-ranked North Dakota and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Sunday for a berth to the Frozen Four in early April.

Denver lost to North Dakota in double overtime last weekend in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s title game in St. Paul, Minn.

“It was exciting,” said Donovan, a 2008 draft pick of the New York Islanders. “It was kind of tiring and long, but it was a great game to be a part of.”

The Pioneers were 1-2 against the North Dakota this season, but the other two games came early in the year.

“It gave us a lot of confidence if we play them again,” Donovan said. “We’re definitely thinking about getting revenge. That put into our heads that we can hang with those guys and beat them if things go our way.”

Denver started the season slow but came on strong.

“This whole season’s been a learning experience,” Donovan said. “Before the last couple of games, we haven’t had very good starts. But we’ve finally started to figure things out lately.”

Donovan was solid as a freshman, with seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points.

He decided to put more emphasis on defense this season. It has paid off. He is providing the Pioneers better defense and better offensive numbers.

“It was really just more of a concentration on it,” Donovan said. “I think I was trying to do a little too much offensively at times. I’ve always been a good defensive player but wanted to concentrate more on that.”

Donovan has eight goals and 30 points and is plus-17 for this season.

The farther Donovan takes his game, whether it be the Frozen Four or if he makes the NHL, Donovan looks forward to telling the story about his Oklahoma roots.

Even though he had to move to Dallas just after he turned 16 and then to Iowa, where he graduated from high school while playing junior hockey, it was Oklahoma where Donovan’s path toward his dreams began.

“I had to do that to get to where I am now, but I had the right coaches when I was in Oklahoma that got me headed in that direction where it was a possibility. The right coaches are still there, and I think I’ve proved that you can come from Oklahoma and make it.”


Anonymous said...

Good to see this story in an OK paper.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that picture of Nutini?

Anonymous said...

lol, good catch

dggoddard said...

Corrected. Thanks for heads up. :-)