On October 12, 19-year-old NHL rookie Auston Matthews had an outstanding debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Matthews scored four goals in his first ever NHL game against the Ottawa Senators. He stunned everyone by scoring his first hat trick in the second period, which would be followed by a fourth goal in the final seconds of the same period.
Matthews is a Latino-born player that comes from a non-traditional hockey market. He was born in San Ramon, California but was raised in Scottsdale, Ariz. He grew up playing both baseball and hockey, but he decided that he had a bigger passion for hockey. Being raised in Ariz., Matthews grew up as an Arizona Coyotes fan with his idols being Shane Doan and Daniel Brière. In 2015, he signed a one-year contract to play for ZSC Lions in the Swiss National League. Matthews’ decision to play for the Swiss National League only allowed him to gain more experience to help him adapt to the NHL. He finished the season second in scoring on the ZSC Lions. Matthews was then drafted first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Matthews’ was held to high expectations as a top draft pick, with his incredible speed and hold of the puck. Hockey fans got a glimpse of his skills while he played for Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey, but no one would expect him to score four times in his first NHL game. His performance gave great hope to hockey fans about the future of the NHL, allowing for fans to have a sneak peek on the ever changing game that is now focusing more on speed than size.
By the fourth goal, Matthews’ brought his mother to tears. His parents were beaming with pride the entire game, but even they could not begin to comprehend the magic that their son was capable of.
His parents weren’t the only ones that expressed their pride; various NHL players expressed their states of shock and admiration towards Matthews’ capabilities that night.
I don't even know what to say. Just a treat to watch tonight @AM34
— Tyler Seguin (@tseguinofficial) October 13, 2016
— Kristopher Letang (@Letang_58) October 13, 2016
— Marian Gaborik (@MGaborik12) October 13, 2016
I feel like I'm watching one of the 99 overall created player's I used to make in NHL 2002
— Garret Sparks (@GSparks40) October 13, 2016
— Frazer Mclaren (@Frazermclaren68) October 13, 2016
I've just decided that Reims will play ALL of the games versus the leafs this year…… #Matthews
— Strombone (@strombone1) October 13, 2016
Even Daniel Brière, Matthews’ hockey idol had to express his amazement towards him.
Wow. Absolutely incredible. Congrats #AM34
— Danny Briere (@DannyBriere48) October 13, 2016
Being cheered on by his idol was just the cherry on top for Matthews that night. With four goals in two periods, it is very clear that he is going to have a bright future in the NHL.
Welcome to the NHL, Auston. The world is cheering for you.