Article courtesy of Dave Anthony from Steinbachonline.com.
It was a dream come true for Matthew Thiessen Saturday when the Altona native was selected into the Vancouver Canucks organization in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Like most of the rest of the hopefuls, Thiessen was glued to his television, waiting for his special moment. A flood of different emotions took over as the day wore on. “I was really excited but also really nervous. As the draft kept going on, I got more nervous. At the end of the day, it all worked out and I”m very excited to go to the team that picked me.”
After a couple of nervous hours, years of hard work and unrelenting family support, Thiessen’s childhood dream came true.
“With the 192nd pick in the 7th round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the Vancouver Canucks select, from the Steinbach Pistons of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, goalie Matthew Thiessen.”
To have his name pop up on screen and hear it called by an NHL franchise still hasn’t sunk in for Thiessen. “It’s still something I haven’t really wrapped my head around. It’s really cool just to be associated with an NHL team. It’s something to be proud of but the hard work really just keeps going from here.”
A tidal wave of emotions came after hearing his name, a sense of accomplishment, relief and realizing his hockey dreams are one step closer to being a reality and much like they have been through every step, his family was right behind him on his special day. “I didn’t have to say much, my parents were both in the room and I just turned around and gave them a big hug. I told them I loved them and I thanked them for everything they’ve given me to this point. It was a really special and emotional moment.”
Steinbach Pistons head coach Paul Dyck spoke about that kind of person Thiessen is and how after you meet him, you instantly want to see him succeed. “He’s a young man with strong character. To hear the elation in his voice after being picked by the Vancouver Canucks was just awesome. It brought back a lot of memories for me from draft day. It will without a doubt be a day he and his family will never forget.”
The organization which Thiessen helped capture both an MJHL Championship and an ANAVET Cup Championship, will also be something that Dyck will never forget. “It’s a historic day for our program as Matthew became the 1st player that was drafted into the NHL after playing with us the previous season. It’s a great day for our organization and an example that players can be recognized by the NHL while playing for the Steinbach Pistons and in the MJHL.”
As excited as Thiessen was to be drafted, the outpouring of support from both Steinbach and Altona, really blew him away. “My phone just blew up, it was crazy,” Thiessen said. ” I got so many text messages, it was just crazy. It was really cool to have all that support and everyone behind me from both communities. Getting to play in Steinbach, the fans are awesome, it’s the best place in Manitoba to play. Parents and other players that remember playing with me when I was younger also reached out. It was really special to share the moment with fans and people I’m close with. I’m very grateful.”
After being chosen, his first thoughts were of his family but Thiessen’s mind also went to a couple of people in particular that really helped him get to this point. “Paul called me right away along with goalie coach Dan Ferguson. They both contacted me right away. It was really special. Also extended family, trainers, friends, everyone. I want to say a big thank you to everyone that reached out, it really meant a lot.”
An offseason of training will start up soon for Thiessen. He’ll take some time to let it all soak in and then it’s back to work. Get bigger, stronger and get ready for the University of Maine in a couple years.
The goalie with the trademark smile grew up being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, but understandably, that may have changed. “I’m a Canucks fan now for sure.”
Many in Steinbach and Altona may also be jumping on the Vancouver Canucks bandwagon in a few years.
– Thiessen is the first NHL draft pick straight out of the MJHL since Dean Stewart was picked by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2016 NHL Draft. Stewart was the 188th pick in the 7th round, and he was playing for the Portage Terriers at the time, making it 2 NHL Draft picks in the last 3 years for the MJHL.
– The rookie sensation’s first season in the MJHL is also likely to be his only, as he is expected to head down south to compete for the starting goaltender job with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints next season before heading to the University of Maine.