By Ben Macintosh
UPEI’s newest defenceman is not wasting any time adjusting to new surroundings both on the ice and in the classroom.
Matt Brassard, from Barrie, Ontario, was playing in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) before joining UPEI this January. He says the level of play in the U Sports league is different than what he is used to in the OHL.
“I think it’s definitely a jump from the OHL, which is where I came from and everyone is bigger, stronger and faster. So, it’s been a little bit of an adjustment,” he said in an interview with the Cadre on Thursday.
At 21 years of age, Brassard was nearing the end of his eligibility for the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) scholarship program. The program helps OHL graduates earn scholarships with universities across the country in the U Sports league.
He had to decide by the December 31 deadline whether he would come to UPEI or not take advantage of the program. In the end, Brassard chose to become a UPEI Panther.
“I talked a lot with my parents about what my decision was come Christmas time, if I was going to come to school or keep playing where I was and I thought this was the best decision.”
Brassard is also having to focus on being back in the classroom for the first time since high school as he works on his Bachelor of Business Administration.
“I was always a pretty decent student in high school and it is obviously an adjustment but its been good so far,” he said.
With a goal and two assists in five games Brassard is showing what he can contribute to the Panthers.
“I’ve been able to work well with the guys on the ice and offence is something that has always been a part of my game,” he said.
Offence was a part of why the Panthers recruited him — head coach Forbes MacPherson said Brassard can help the team in many ways.
“He has the potential to add to our offence. He’s a big strong kid, when he’s in the right position he can defend well, so he brings a lot to our group,” MacPherson said in an interview with the Cadre on Thursday.
So far, Brassard says it has been fun coming to UPEI and working with his new teammates. The Panthers will be back at home on January 18 to play StFx at 7 P.M.