The Rhinos have tendered another forward for the 2020-21 NAHL team. Learn more about Chicago native Sean Matthews.
Chicago forward Sean Matthews met former Rhino and scout Alec Sherman in Minot earlier this year. “A few weeks ago, I talked to him in person for the first time,” Matthews remembers. Throughout their conversation, Sherman expressed a sincere interest in Matthews and detailed the support the team and players receive while they’re in Rhino Country. “It’s important to me that wherever I go, I’m wanted and it’s important to have a good fan base.”
Sherman also clearly articulated how Matthews’ physical and aggressive game matched that of the Rhinos. “I thought the style of play would fit me best. It’s more physical—a blue-collar game and that’s something my game is fitted for.” The forward admits that he’s not a skill-player. “I’m a grinder, hard-working. I’m not really a flashy, pretty player. I work as hard as I can on the ice and when I don’t have the puck, I just try to get my team the puck as fast as I can.” Sherman describes him similarly, “Matthews is a big center who moves the puck well and has a knack for producing points. He is a very versatile player who can be plugged into multiple roles. He plays Rhino-style hockey—always finishes his checks and battles hard in the corners.”
With a goal of playing NCAA Division I college hockey, Matthews is constantly focused on improving. “I knew that in Rhino Country I could grow to be a better hockey player than I am now.” He knows that even before he arrives in El Paso, he will be fine tuning his game so that he can have a successful start in the NAHL. “I need to improve on visual play, especially when I don’t have the puck, and getting open in soft areas so I can get shots off.” Having recently switched from playing wing, he is using this season to develop as a center, specifically working on winning faceoffs and supporting defenseman. Excelling as as a winger and a center, however, will give the Rhino coaches the opportunity to see the position he is better suited for next season.
Matthews is currently playing for Chicago Mission 18U AAA. After winning their state competition, they’ve advanced to regionals in Omaha, NE. There, Matthews’ team will play other teams from Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Nebraska. He admits that the season has been challenging, especially when trying to develop chemistry with linemates. He says that his line is now beginning to play well together and that his team has very specific plans as they progress through the season. “We definitely need to start off strong. We’ve had a problem with letting in too many goals in the first period and we fall behind. We come back in the second or third period but sometimes it’s not enough. We need to attack first and get the first few goals.” That mentality of playing with desperation from the moment the puck drops is one that will be valuable for Matthews anywhere he plays, but specifically in his first season in the NAHL with the Rhinos.
Ten Things with Sean Matthews
1. What’s the hardest you’ve ever worked? Working out with an ex-NHL strength coach
“During the past two summers, I started working with an ex-NHL strength coach. He pushed me to my limit.” It was a challenging three-week plan of conditioning mixed with weights.
2. What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of? Oceans 11-13
“I’ve always liked the movies. I thought they were really good.”
3. What food is delicious but a pain to eat? Ice cream
“I like Culver’s mint Oreo but it’s on the heavier side and it’s not that good for you.” Especially if you’re lactose intolerant.
4. What was the last photo you took? An article
“I have a picture of an article I had to read and cite for school.” He as writing an argumentative paper on why NHL players should be paid more.
5. What movie quotes do you use on a regular basis? “Keep the change ya filthy animal.”
“Home Alone reminds me of my little brother. He kinda looks like Kevin McCallister.”
6. If magic were real, what spell would you try to learn first? Whatever spell that would grant super speed
7. What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to? Lacrosse
“It seems fun. It’s similar to hockey, except the ball is in in the air.”
8. What was the last song you sang along to? Rocky by Still Woozy
“I was doing homework the other day and had Spotify on.”
9. What bit of trivia do you know that is very interesting but also very useless? Nitrogen in the atmosphere
“The atmosphere is full of nitrogen.”
10. What was the best thing that happened to you today? Earned an A on an school essay
“I got a 95 on that argumentative essay about why NHL players should get paid more.”
According to NAHL.com, “A tender is a contract, of sorts, a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team. Each team is granted ten (10) tenders – plus or minus any trades – which become active on Nov. 1. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft.”