When in attendance at a Petes game it can be difficult grasp that the players, though playing older than their age insinuates, are mostly teenagers or, at maximum, a couple of years out of high school. While some sixteen and seventeen year olds are concerned about making curfew or hiding their phone from their teachers, Petes and other CHL rookies are adjusting to moving away from home, or even away from the country they were raised in, while acquiring the full time role of being a student athlete.
Post-OHL entry draft, we assume that the route to a Memorial Cup is all glamour. However, a lifestyle shift in an unfamiliar area is a taxing process for any teen, regardless of the programs and resources in place to aid the transition. Veterans of the team who exude confidence didn’t arrive at their level of comfort without minor setbacks or feelings of uneasiness early on in their junior careers, as was the case with Petes defenseman Matt Timms.
Timms grew up in Waterdown, Ontario and was drafted 22nd overall by the Petes in 2014. Since then, he has evolved into a leader, a point per game player during his 2016-17 season (until he was plagued by a dislocated shoulder during the playoffs), and resilient veteran. He also quickly bounced back from a broken foot this season.
Although a lot of his success is self-produced, Timms refuses to take full praise for any of his accomplishments. “I couldn’t give enough credit to my [defence] partner Kyle Jenkins. He was totally underestimated. I think he was a massive part of the success,” said Timms, in reference to the Petes’ previous season.
He continued by saying, “He and I had a great relationship off and on the ice. We were pretty good friends, and because we were close, we could give each other constructive criticism and we learned from each other. It took a little bit, but by the end of the season, it was apparent we had good chemistry. I’ve never played with a partner who I connected with so well on and off the ice.”
His admiration for those who have helped him along his athletic journey is not limited to the guys alongside him on the bench, but also includes his supporters at home, “My mom is extremely hard working. I really admire the way she handled me growing up. I’m just starting to realize all the sacrifices she made for me growing up in hockey and how she comes up to every home game, her and my grandparents, and its probably two and a half hours for them.” He notes how much he looks forward to returning home in the summer.
The separation from this network of overwhelming support posed some difficulties early on in his junior career, “Moving away at sixteen years old then kind of going away to a foreign place, you have to go through tough times. You’re not playing much, the league is so much faster than where you are coming from. You’re screwing up a lot.”
“I just think the big thing is, you’ve got to grow up fast. It hits you like a brick wall” says Timms. He describes the changes fans aren’t accustomed to thinking of when recalling the players, like a new school, new roommates, playing with guys three years older and developing a conditioned physique that wasn’t fully demanded in minor hockey.
Fortunately, Timms has stepped into his fourth season comfortably adjusted, with full confidence. He has a stern passion for the game, outstanding vision on the ice, and ties a lot of the players together. His honesty in conversation, approachable attitude, and ability to keep things light on and off the ice has served him as an outstanding leader and important presence on the Petes roster.
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