Breakout Star of the Month: Matthew Strome
Name three sets of famous hockey brothers. Go.
The Sutters surely top the list, with the Staals not far behind. And if you consider which brothers have combined for the most points in the NHL, Wayne and Brent Gretzky are up there too.
But with the rookie campaign Matthew Strome has put together for the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Strome clan seems to be just a few years away from being mentioned among those great NHL families.
After a spectacular minor midget year with the Toronto Marlboros in 2014-15, one that included an OHL Cup-clinching goal in overtime and a GTHL Playoff Championship, the youngest Strome brother was selected eighth overall by the Bulldogs last spring.
With two games remaining in his first OHL season, Strome paces all players selected in the top 10 of last year’s draft with 37 points (15-22—37) in 59 contests in 2015-16.
Strome told NHL.com back in November that he’s in frequent contact with his older brothers, Ryan, who is in the midst of his third NHL seasons, and Dylan, who is completing his second straight 100-point campaign with the Erie Otters, to pick their brain for whatever nuggets he can use to take his game to new heights.
“Just wait ‘till you get your chance, and when you get your chance, you just have to capitalize,” Strome said of his brothers’ advice. “That’s probably one of the biggest things they told me was just, if you’re not having a good game or not having a good practice, just get in the gym (and) try to get in the extra work.”
At 25-33-8-0 (58 points), the Bulldogs are battling with the defending Memorial Cup champion Oshawa Generals (26-31-4-4, 60 points) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Bulldogs head coach and general manager George Burnett believes the franchise is in good hands with the likes of Strome on the left side.
“We’re really excited about Matthew’s prospects and the way he’s played for us this year,” said Burnett. “He’s earning himself more and more of an opportunity as we go along.”
His knack for the net and ability to play off his teammates in the offensive zone were just some of the traits that highlighted his minor midget year and those habits have followed him down the 403 to Hamilton.
“I think he has a maturity beyond his years,” Burnett said. “He captained the best team in the province last year with the [Toronto Marlboros] and there are a lot of the things that we liked about him. Over the next four years, he’s going to take on a bigger and bigger role each and every year.”