The Steinbach Pistons are excited to announce that goaltender Matthew Thiessen has committed to the University of Maine of NCAA Division I.
With his commitment, Thiessen becomes the 8th Pistons player to commit to a Division I school in the 9 year history of the franchise. He joins the ranks of 11 previous commitments to Division III programs, 8 U-Sports commitments, and 4 Alberta College Athletic Conference commitments.
“I am obviously very excited for Matthew and the opportunity he has earned,” Head Coach and General Manager Paul Dyck said. “He has shown tremendous progress in his development and is deserving of the commitment (by Maine).”
The rookie goaltender and Altona native has had a blistering start to his MJHL career, and as of today has a 2.18 GAA which is the best in the league. He has posted an 11-2-0 record in net, which is the best amongst MJHL goalies that have made 10 or more starts.
The 17 year old says that during a recent visit to the campus, he got excited about all of the aspects that he saw. “I really loved the school, coaches, the hockey, and the atmosphere,” he said. “I think that’s what made it the best fit for me.”
Thiessen went into detail on what makes Maine unique. “It starts with the fans and students lining up hours before the game because tickets are first come, first serve,” he explained. “During the game, the students have so many different chants, and the band is playing all the time so it gets loud. It’s the coolest I have ever seen,”
The Black Bears program has produced quality NHL players, including NHL Hall of Famer Paul Kariya, and 2-time Stanley Cup champion Dustin Penner from Winkler. The former Maine players playing currently in the NHL include Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings, Ben Hutton for the Vancouver Canucks, and goalies Ben Bishop from the Stars, Jimmy Howard from the Red Wings, and Scott Darling from the Hurricanes. “It is really cool to be going to the same school as some of those very successful NHLers,” Thiessen said.
Thiessen said he is looking into taking businesses classes at the campus. He thanked his teammates, the Pistons organization, and the Steinbach community for their support this season. “Being a Piston has helped me a lot on how to conduct myself off the ice as a person,” he said. “If you are helping out around the community, people will see that and enjoy it. It makes me happy knowing I can make other people happy.”
Thiessen joins teammate Darby Gula (Bemidji State) as players who have committed this season. Dyck takes pride in his players being focused and committed to doing what it takes both on and off the ice to get to the next level. “It is fulfilling to see some of them being rewarded for the time and work they are putting towards reaching their goals.”
“As a player, the coaches have meant a lot to me in helping me with the process of transitioning to junior this year, and they always push me to compete every time I step on the ice,” Thiessen said. “I have loved playing for the Pistons, and I can’t wait for the season to keep on going!”