Matt Fraser is entering his second season in the Boston Bruins organization and looking to become an NHL regular. Fraser went undrafted out of the Western Hockey League but after being signed by the Dallas Stars, he put up 70 goals in two AHL seasons with Texas. In 2013, Fraser was one the pieces acquired by the Bruins in the Tyler Seguin trade.
Recently Shnarped had the chance to speak at length with Matt as he reflected back on his journey from a 9th round pick in the bantam draft to an overtime hero in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In part one of a three-part series, we explore his thoughts on playing in Boston and what it was like scoring the overtime winning goal in his NHL playoff debut.
Recently I was cruising along in my car in Boston, listening to the radio and there were these classic Boston sports reporters saying, “We got this kid, Fraser” and they’re talking about how the third and fourth lines are going to look this year. They’ve got you locked in. What’s it been like playing in Boston?
Everywhere you go there are passionate fans that enjoy watching the game but for me, the biggest difference in Boston is the support you receive that you don’t even know about. As a player that’s what takes everything above and beyond. You’re walking down the street and someone says “good game” or something like that. It’s not about being recognized or the fame, it’s about connecting with the fans on a more personal level rather than being a face in a helmet.
In Boston, the fans there are so passionate, so driven and that city just runs off their sports teams with the Bruins, the Patriots, the Red Sox, and the Celtics. That city just oozes pride and as a player, that makes it exciting to go out and play in front of them. Not only just play but win and give them exactly what they want which is a winning organization, a winning team and a winning city. Boston is a tremendous city and it’s a place I wish every kid could experience and see what it’s like because it’s truly a great place to play. It’s an amazing city.
Is there anyone on the Bruins that you want to model your game after or just respect the way they prepare and carry themselves?
It’s hard not to go into that dressing room and respect the guys that put on that jersey because they’re there for a reason and they all believe in a common goal of winning the Stanley Cup. You have to respect the guys like (Shawn) Thornton, (Milan) Lucic and (Zdeno) Chara. You look at a guy like (Jarome) Iginla and he’s done so much for his career, in the NHL and on an international level, that it’s a no brainer.
You need to watch those guys because you want to see how they prepare and how they carry themselves in the dressing room, during the game and after the game with the media. You see why they’re so successful because they know how to be a professional. All those guys are so professional and they’re there because they want to win. Ultimately if you didn’t want to win and didn’t want to prepare yourself then you wouldn’t be there.
I know you’ve been asked about the scoring the OT winner against Montreal a lot but can you take us through what that day was like? 24/7 style, from beginning to end.
I woke up at 8’o’clock in the morning. I wasn’t sleeping much. It’s just one of those things where you’re excited to play and you’re not sure if you’re going to be in or not until the pregame skate. You don’t understand how big the playoffs are until you’re at the Bell Centre in Montreal. It seems like every reporter from Montreal, Boston, and Toronto is there. It’s insane! To just be a part of that was neat.
Going into the game, I walked into the dressing room and I said, “Worrying is literally betting against yourself.” I told myself that all game because what was I going to do? You’re a call-up, no one expects anything and you have to do something to make a name for yourself. It was Hockey 101. You go to the net and it was exciting that it went in. It was something I’ll never forget but on a bigger note, it tied the series. Obviously the series didn’t go the way we wanted it to but to be a difference maker on the ice, that’s what you want. You want to be an impact player. I had done that, I helped the team and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
When does it set in that you’ve actually scored the winner? In the pile? Two minutes later? The next day when you read it in the paper?
When I was walking to my truck at the airport. We flew home to Boston that night and there were two buses there, one for the team and one for the media. When I got called up, I had to drive from Providence to Boston. The media bus had to drop me off at my vehicle and everyone knew when the Bruins were going to land. Everyone was watching us go through the terminal and I got lost going through the elevator to my vehicle.
So I eventually got there, sat in my truck for 10 minutes and digested it all. You want to call your friends and family but I just sat there and digested it all. You take into account what happened and it was exciting to be a part of that. It was exciting to just be there. That moment I’ll never forget, just sitting there. I let out a little sigh of relief, put the windows down and drove back to the hotel. I was in no rush.
What did you put on the radio to celebrate?
I don’t remember if I had anything on. I think I just drove. I put down the windows and just drove. It was nice and quiet. At the same time, my head has never been going a million miles an hour like that in my life. Honestly it was just quiet and I could think.
Look for part-two of our interview with Matt Fraser where we look back at how he made it to the NHL after being a 9th round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft. You can follow Matt on Shnarped!
Mac Faulker currently runs Hockey Players 4 Kids. To find out more information visit hp4k.org!