Player Profile: Matt Read
It’s a phrase that Philadelphia hockey fans have become fairly accustomed to over the last few months. With all the moves that the franchise made this past offseason, a great deal of attention has been paid to the pressure that the younger players on the Flyers will be under this season. Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Sean Couturier and Braydon Schenn are all individuals that are expected to play crucial roles in the Flyers plans to bring the Stanley Cup back to Broad Street.
After an impressive pre-season and a strong performance in two regular season games, Matt Read is quickly earning himself some attention as well.
Read was born on June 14, 1986 in Ilderton, Ontario. The 5’11” forward began his career in 2005 when he joined the Milton Icehawks of the Ontario Provincial Junior ‘A’ Hockey League (OPJHL), a semi-pro league. Read registered 68 points in 48 games at Milton, tallying 34 goals and 34 assists.
In 2006, Read joined the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League (USHL), the top junior program in the United States. The Buccaneers posted a record of 29-21-10, finishing in sixth place in the West division. During that time, Read would score 28 goals and 34 assists to total 62 points in 58 regular season games, as well as two goals in eight playoff games.
In 2007, he enrolled at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. Read spent the next four years at the Division I school, playing a total of 147 regular season games scoring 65 goals, 76 assists and 141 points. Read was named to the College Hockey America (CHA) conference All-Rookie team in 2007, as well as being named the CHA Rookie of the Year.
The 2008-09 season, Read’s second at Bemidji, was the single greatest season in the school’s history at the Division I level. The Beavers finished the regular season with a 12-5-1 record, strong enough for first overall in the CHA. Bemidji ended up winning the CHA championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament. The team went on to register the university’s first ever NCAA tournament win by upsetting the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who were ranked second overall in the nation at the time. Bemidji eventually advanced to their first ever Frozen Four before falling to Miami of Ohio in the semi-finals.
In Read’s final season at Bemidji, the university would change conferences by joining the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The WCHA is largely considered the most competitive conference in all of Division I hockey (the conference has produced the winner of the national championship 36 times, the most of any conference in all of Division I hockey). Bemidji struggled in their first year posting a final record of 8-15-5, which put the Beavers in the 10th seed in the WCHA tournament. Although the team struggled in the regular season, they would advance to the semi-finals of the tournament by sweeping Nebraska-Omaha in the opening round and defeating Minnesota-Duluth in the Final Five. Bemidji would ultimately fall to Denver in the semi-finals.
Six days after being eliminated by Denver, Read would sign a three-year free agent contract with the Flyers. The forward had the chance to play in the final 11 games of the AHL season with the Adirondack Phantoms, where he registered 13 points with seven goals and six assists.
Read would impress many in his short stint with the Phantoms, including Phantoms beat-writer Tim McManus.
“Read has tremendous vision,” McManus said in an interview with Flyers Faithful. “The game just sped up when he was on the ice. He’s a creator, for sure.”
Read’s speed has been a component of his game that has been apparent in his time with the Flyers. His ability to turn the puck up ice, as well as his ability to get back on defense, is largely why Read made the team out of camp. In two regular season games with the Flyers, Read has averaged a little over 14 minutes of ice time. He has seen a considerable amount of time on the penalty kill and has played a few shifts on the power play. Read even scored his first NHL goal in the Flyers last game against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.
While the season is still young, Read is already opening eyes and catching the fans' attention. Partnered with Couturier on the third line, Read is displaying that he is capable of holding his own with the rest of the young guns. As long as Read continues to perform with the energy that he has thus far, the 25-year old forward has a wonderful opportunity to cement a permanent role with the Flyers.