Freelance writer Dave Cunning has an in-depth Q&A with former Minuteman, current San Jose Sharks' defenseman, Matt Irwin on The Score:
"He may not be a household name just yet, but San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin may work his way into your mental NHL player directory yet. Now in his second NHL season, the 26 year old British Columbian is continuing a trend from his amateur career that has seen his point totals, ice-time, and contributions to his team's success dynamically increase every year.
Irwin spoke with me at length about his long road to the NHL and what he'll have to do to stay there, the tough decisions he was required to make and small window of opportunity he had to live out his dream, past teammates that helped get him where he is now, current ones that help make him better, what the San Jose Sharks will have to do to win their first Stanley Cup, what it takes to be consistently inserted into a lineup full of Olympians, All-Stars, and Stanley Cup champions, and more.
The Province, out of British Columbia, had this piece chronicling former UMass and current San Jose Sharks' defenseman Matt Irwin's development throughout his hockey career:
"Bill Bestwick marvels at Matt Irwin being paired with Dan Boyle and manning the point on the San Jose Sharks' power play.
He can't help but think of the kid from Brentwood Bay, near Victoria, who showed up in Nanaimo with high BCHL hopes and little meat on his 16-year-old frame.
"He couldn't do a pushup," recalled the former Clippers coach and general manager.
"When he played for me at 16, as an affiliate player, I think he was probably scared to death. At 17, he got his feet wet, and at 18, he started to figure out, 'Hey, I'm not bad.' He was 6-foot-2, but still a skinny runt with no strength in his body. Then at 19, his coordination and dexterity came to the forefront."
Former UMass hockey players Matt Irwin and Casey Wellman were both recalled by their respective NHL clubs today. Irwin will rejoin the San Jose Sharks after playing nine games with the Sharks at the start of the season.
Here's another piece of former Minuteman Matt Irwin and his early season success in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks:
Matt Irwin is too young to remember Larry Robinson. But he knows "big bird." Big yellow fella from Sesame Street.
"My uncle is a Montreal Canadiens fan, so he's a big Larry Robinson fan," Irwin, the 25-year-old San Jose Sharks' rookie, said before facing the Vancouver Canucks here Sunday. "I haven't had to ask for an autograph yet (for my uncle), but that might be coming up soon."
Irwin is already signing autographs for himself. The defenceman from Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island has been a revelation to the Sharks' coaching staff, which includes Robinson, known as "Big Bird" when he played and merely one of the greatest blueliners of his generation.
Robinson and Irwin are getting to know each other.
Undrafted after three Junior-A seasons with the Nanaimo Clippers, Irwin entered the University of Massachusetts as a 20-year-old freshman and played two seasons in Amherst. He earned a free-agent contract from the Sharks, then spent another 2 ½ seasons in the American Hockey League before injuries to San Jose defencemen Brent Burns and Jason Demers helped Irwin make the lineup for the start of the lockout-shortened National Hockey League season.
Until two weeks ago, Irwin's entire NHL experience was one pre-season game.
But through four games this month, the 6-2, 210-pound Irwin was averaging 22:48 of ice time and playing with Dan Boyle in the defence's top four.
UMass hockey alum Matt Irwin, who logged his first NHL points over the weekend, was featured in his hometown paper:
In a star-studded lockerroom, Matt Irwin could have been mistaken for a fan Sunday morning.
After all, the Brentwood Bay, B.C. native talked enthusiastically about idolizing Trevor Linden while playing for the Nanaimo Clippers. But the talk among teammates was how the undrafted San Jose Sharks defenceman has made a seamless rookie transition to the NHL. He even unloaded a heavy slapshot for his first career goal Saturday.
The effort was posted in a hurry to YouTube and there was a flurry of calls from his minor-league teammates in Worcester, Mass., and likely a few from old college teammates at UMass-Amherst, too.
"I don't know if I ever pictured one goal and it doesn't matter -- it's kind of been a whirlwind and kind of exciting," he said before a 4-1 victory Sunday over the Vancouver Canucks. "We've all had that moment on the driveway and stuff like that. I don't think I even scored too many of those goals then. I was just trying to play."
Irwin doesn't look like and certainly doesn't sound like a rookie. A pairing with veteran Dan Boyle and the tutelage of assistant coach Larry Robinson have the 25-year-old blueliner poised for a brighter future after signing a two-year, two-way free agent contract that expires after this season.
"He's played great -- better than great," said Boyle, who was also undrafted. "He's not only doing what he needs to do, he's doing more and not just eating up minutes. He's a big factor in all the games. Veterans sometimes do the mistake of giving a young guy too much information and then it's overload.
Congratulations to former Minuteman Matt Irwin who scored his first NHL goal last night to help the San Jose Sharks down the Colorado Avalanche, 4-0. Irwin saw 22:48 of ice time, blocked six shots and was named the game's No. 2 star.
Here's the video of Irwin's goal:
The Sharks also had this nice tribute to Irwin on Twitter Friday after he tallied his first NHL point, an assist vs. the Phoenix Coyotes:
Former Minuteman Matt Irwin joined Mike Kostka as the second UMass hockey alum to make his NHL debut this weekend. A member of the San Jose Sharks, Irwin was on the ice for 19:06 in his first NHL game, including 51 seconds on the power play. He also registered two shots and two hits as the Sharks defeated the Calgary Flames, 4-1.
With the start of the NHL season just days away, teams have been providing coverage of their training camps on their web sites. Video updates from the LA Kings and the San Jose Sharks featured former Minutemen Jonathan Quick and Justin Braun.
Jonathan Quick Speaks To The Media On Day 1 Of Training Camp:
Sharks Second-Year Players Are Expected To Raise Performance Level (Braun at 2:27 mark):
Two more former UMass hockey players are also currently at NHL training camps as Matt Irwin is with the Sharks and Mike Kostka (pictured, middle) is with Toronto.
Dick Baker of the Springfield Republican has an update on Paul Dainton returning to Springfield last night to make 37 saves in a 4-2 win over Worcester. One of the goals he allowed was against former teammate Matt Irwin who also assisted on the other goal.
Dick Baker of the Springfield Republican has an update on Justin Braun (San Jose Sharks, NHL), Matt Irwin (Worcester Sharks, AHL) and Casey Wellman (Minnesota Wild, NHL).
Braun played a season-high 21 minutes in a 3-2 win over Edmonton, while Irwin was reassigned to Worcester. After being called up from Houston, Wellman has been sidelined with the an injury for the Wild.
In Dick Baker's MassLive.com Hockey Blog, he recaps the Maine loss including the play of Kevin Czepiel. He also has updates on Mike Kostka with the Rochester Americans and Matt Irwin with the Worcester Sharks.
HockeysFuture.com has a depth analysis of the Worcester Sharks with several mentions for former UMass skaters including what they do well and what they need to work on in order to have a shot at making it in the NHL. Included references are to James Marcou, Justin Braun and Matt Irwin.
Alex Berry is in training camp with the Norfolk Admirals and HockeysFuture.com hasa season preview of the club along with a few nice mentions of what Berry will add to the lineup. The Admirals are the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Berry and the Admirals will open the regular season against a few familiar faces as the Worcester Sharks will head down to Virginia. If Berry makes the club, he will likely play against Justin Braun, Matt Irwin, James Marcou and Cory Quirk of the Sharks.
Dick Baker has several new entries in his UMass Hockey Blog on MassLive.com. One interesting thing to point out is that Justin Braun, James Marcou and Cory Quirk were all assigned to the Worcester Sharks over the weekend. The trio will join Matt Irwin with the AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.
UMass alum Andy Merritt has an interesting read in the New England Hockey Journal on the dilemma of college hockey players to leave college early for the professional ranks. In his story, he mentions UMass' losses following last season of James Marcou, Casey Wellman and Matt Irwin. He has several quotes from UMass coach Don "Toot" Cahoon as well as quotes from Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna.
Former UMass defensemen Justin Braun and Matt Irwin are each mentioned in this article from the Mercury News as the San Jose Sharks rookie camp has begun. Both played for the AHL affiliate Worcester Sharks at the conclusion of UMass' season last year.
The Worcester Sharks will begin their AHL season in just over a month as well - Oct. 9 to be exact - and former Minutemen Justin Braun and Matt Irwin have received a bit of preseason praise. "Some of Worcester's top rookies should include defensemen Justin Braun and Matt Irwin, who played at UMass, and defenseman Nick Schaus, who played four seasons at UMass-Lowell. "We've got some draft picks that will be coming in and some free agents," coach Roy Sommer said. "The kids that played for us at the end of the year in the playoffs have a great opportunity this season. They're not just coming into the league, they have the experience."
Former UMass defenseman Matt Irwin was also mentioned today in a news feature focusing on his offseason training as he prepares for the upcoming hockey season. Irwin signed with the San Jose Sharks last spring and is anticipated to be playing for the AHL Worcester Sharks in 2010-11.