PHOTO: NAX Hockey
Matthew Savoie is a special hockey player, this much is clear.
In 31 games this year for the Northern Alberta XTreme Prep team, the 15-year-old out of St. Albert, Alberta, has tallied 71 points (31G-40A).
He’d been compared to the likes of Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon by the age of 14, and he acknowledges how special those players are, but doesn’t want to lose focus on the next task in front of him.
“Honestly, I just take the comparisons as positives,” Savoie said. “It’s pretty cool being someone who gets recognized for being good at hockey. But for me, the focus really comes from wanting to play, loving the game, being so dedicated to it.”
Savoie has applied for exceptional status for the coming WHL Draft, which, if approved, would make him the sixth player in CHL history to achieve this, following in the footsteps of Connor McDavid, John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Joe Veleno and Sean Day.
“I think it would be a great opportunity moving forward with hockey,” Savoie said. “It would be an unreal experience. It’s pretty special to even be able to apply for it. There’s a lot of work that’s gone into it, and it’s just a dream to get to that point. I just want to play at the highest level that I can play at, and that’s really why we applied for the exceptional status.”
Savoie’s brother, Carter has shown Matt the way, and Savoie acknowledges that having him around helped him adjust to playing up a couple age groups.
“It’s great to have a guy around who’s gone through the process already,” Savoie said. “The first year I played up in age was in Bantam with him. It was nice having him on the team, and I knew a lot of his friends already, so it was pretty easy to make that jump.”
Savoie says that sometimes getting away from the rink to refresh and get a breath of fresh air is important in continuing the passion for the game, but that his love for the game doesn’t waiver.
“I just go hang with friends and family, and play other sports,” Savoie said. “During the summer, I go on holidays and stuff with them, but I love being around the rink, so there isn’t much getting away from it.”
Savoie mentioned his father, Scott, as playing a key role in his development, and that he appreciates the extra work his father has put in with him on and off the ice.
“He’s really a great support for me,” Savoie said. “He loves to see me develop as a player and a person. He’s really intelligent about the game of hockey so he helps with my game and everything else. It’s really nice to have him around.”
Despite all of the hype and attention that Matthew has earned, he has simply remained focused on what he’s wants to accomplish.
“I’m just trying to work towards my dream,” explained Savoie. “I have to stay focused and know the task at hand. I try to see myself playing at the highest level and I hope that the dream can happen one day.”
What makes playing the game of hockey so important to the youngster?
“I won’t forget the path I’ve taken,” Savoie said. “Just this last week, representing my province was really special. There’s a lot of training and practice that goes into it, and we’re creating bonds that are going to last a lifetime, and it’s cool to say that I’ve made lifelong friends through hockey. Hockey for me feels like a home away from home.”
Yes, he’s being compared to the best players in the NHL, but Matthew Savoie is just trying to be the next Matthew Savoie.
Video: Stand Out Sports