Peterborough Proud: Matt Spencer
Many Petes are remembered for their contributions on the ice, others stand out for their impact in the community, then there are those like Matt Spencer, who played a big role in both. Nicknamed Spenny, the increasingly rare right-handed defensemen stands at 6’2″ and tallied 83 points over his four years with the mighty maroon and white while bringing energy to his work in the community while in the Electric City.
Commended for his work ethic, Spencer was steadfast in his efforts to hold the blue line and push to the playoffs. Described as tenacious with an intense passion for the game, Matt is strictly business on the ice, a narrative that contrasts his off-ice presence.
Unsurprisingly, his fondest on-ice memory involves a series of underdog playoff wins against the Kingston Frontenacs in the 2013/14 season.
“In the playoffs when we were down 3 games to nothing. I remember it was pretty remarkable. In that stretch of games we were able to go to and play Kingston in a tough barn, come home and win, then go on the road and win. It was a whirlwind experience. It was probably one that stuck out the most”
It was in this series that Petes fans (and, to their chagrin, Frontenacs fans) got a good taste of Spenny’s abilities, highlighted by his deadly slap-pass from the right point that led to more than a few Petes goals over the years.
Peterborough would move onto the semi-finals and be swept by the Oshawa Generals (a roster stocked with talent that would lead the Gens to a 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup), but the brief playoff run remains a highlight for Matt.
Although his time in the Liftlock Locale has since ceased, firm roots were laid throughout the community that raised him into adulthood, as he explains, “when I first arrived with the Petes I was a really young guy. I learned how to become professional, how to become a man.”
Spencer continues to stay in contact with the group of guys that rotated throughout the organization while he played, attributing his extensive time with the team as partial reason for his firm relationships.
“I keep in touch with a lot of the guys I met over the years. We talk everyday and catch up on things and talk about how their lives are going now that we’re not with Peterborough anymore. I think the fact that I was able to be there for four years and meet a whole bunch of people – these friendships will last a long time.”
Current Petes like captain Logan DeNoble, Adam Timleck, Matt Timms, and Dylan Wells are just a few of his former teammates who play key roles in his chain of memories with the Petes. Spencer vividly recalls being Timms’ and Wells’ driver in his first year, chauffeuring them between high school and the rink.
Logan DeNoble notes that Spenny’s serious approach to hockey shouldn’t overcast his clever sense of humour. The d-man was notorious for his movie impressions, even bringing scenes from Superbad to the ice on occasion as well as baseball reenactments during the off-ice warm up. Current forward Chris Paquette reminisces on Matt sliding in on frictionless surfaces at away rinks as if he was Josh Donaldson trying to make it to first base and acting out the umpire’s calls that follow, when they were trying to loosen up before the game.
Beyond adding to the Petes roster, Matt entwined himself as the fourth son of the Robbins family, who billeted the d-man for his entire OHL career. Vance, Hope, nineteen year old Cole, eighteen year old Noah and sixteen year old Joel. Throughout the conversation with Matt he continuously reveals gratitude for his billet family, and insists they were a major contributor for his favourable relationship with Peterborough.
Become a billet family so that THIS guy doesn’t.
— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) August 25, 2017
Billet Dad Vance described the addition of Matt to his family as “perfect,” going on to say, “he’s a great kid, we have three boys who are close to his age. He became our fourth son. It was a positive experience for them all.” The Robbins family has followed their adopted Petes’ journey beyond his days at the Memorial Centre, attending Belleville Sens games when Matt’s Syracuse Crunch visit.
“[The players] become a piece of your life, you always want to keep in touch, see how they’re doing. Being a hockey player can be a grind mentally and physically so you just want to make sure he’s managing well.”
Since moving on from the Petes and joining the Syracuse Crunch, Matt continues to call both Vance and Hope on Father’s and Mother’s Day.
When you speak with anyone who was a part of Spenny’s experience with the Petes, one thing is inevitable and it is his love for the franchise and furthermore the city. He commemorated his time making an appearance alongside Steve Lorentz during the 2017/18 Petes training camp.
Guess who’s back, back again. Spenny’s back, brought a friend. pic.twitter.com/XeUFYRuGhp
— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) August 29, 2017
Spencer’s reflection on his time cloaked in maroon and white is marked with comfort rather than nostalgia for Peterborough, a place he – and many other Petes alumni – calls his second home.