By Matt Stefano
He played as an affiliate player with the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds back in 2018-2019, and now he’s an NHL draft pick!
On Saturday afternoon, defenceman and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Jack Matier was selected in the 4th round (124th overall) by the Nashville Predators in the second and final day of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Matier, who just turned 18-years-old back on April 8, is also getting set to enter his second season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s.
“It was amazing to see Jack’s name appear on the screen,” said Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach and general manager Jamie Henderson. “It was such a special day for him and his family and we want to extend our congratulations to all of them.”
In his rookie season with the 67’s back in 2019-2020, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native had 9 assists in 56 regular season games, and helped the 67’s to a 50-win and 101-point season.
Matier and the 67’s did end up finishing in first place in the Ontario Hockey League that season, but their dreams of winning a J. Ross Robertson Cup would not become a reality as the 2020 postseason would then end up being cancelled due to COVID-19.
“Jack had a great rookie season with Ottawa while getting to play with some of the league’s top players on a really good team,” said Henderson.
Matier, who did not get a chance to play in the OHL last season due to a cancelled season (because of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions), still got a chance to win a championship back in May, as he helped Team Canada’s Under-18 club capture a gold medal over Team Russia in Frisno, Texas.
“Jack had such a solid showing at the Under-18 World Championship, where he displayed the type of player he can be at the next level,” said Henderson.
Before entering the OHL as a 16-year-old in 2019, Matier played the 2018-2019 season with the Great North Under-18 Hockey League’s Soo Thunderbirds AAA club, where he was coached under current Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) assistant coach and general manager Jamie Henderson.
That season (2018-2019), Matier wore the “C” on his chest for his hometown AAA team.
“Being able to coach Jack has been a great experience,” said Henderson. “He was really a pro at the age of 15 and he learned so many valuable lessons from his dad Mark, who had a great hockey career himself. He had a real focus and was really driven to improve everyday.”
In the 2018-2019 season, Matier also suited up for one regular season game with the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds, before playing in one postseason game with them during the 2019 playoffs.
“With this new ownership group with the Thunderbirds, one of our main areas of focus will be for our affiliate players,” said Henderson. “Giving players such as Jack an opportunity to practice and play a few games with us will be great for their development.”
Matier, who is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, became the first Sooite to be drafted by a National Hockey League team since Nick Porco (Dallas Stars) back in 2019.
(Photo of Jack Matier with the Great North Under-18 Soo Thunderbirds credit to Bob Davies)