Arizona Native Set For Weekend Series in Home State
by Dylan Pescatore/CHN Reporter
Arizona and Hockey are two things that haven’t matched in the past. There aren’t a lot of rinks, not many players, and the enthusiasm is lacking. However, all it takes is one to create the path. For Minnesota sophomore forward Matthew Knies, it’s about following in the footsteps of those who came before him.
Shane Doan is the name that comes up when people mention Arizona Hockey. Doan played in the NHL for 21 years, 20 with the Coyotes. Doan was a huge mentor for Knies as he went through Middle and High School playing with his son, Josh. At the time, the Jr. Coyotes were the only travel team in Arizona. Knies and Doan traveled almost every weekend whether it be to Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit, or wherever they could find competition to play against.
When growing up in Arizona, Knies had a tough time telling people that he was a hockey player,
“I don’t think they understood. They didn’t know what hockey was,” he said.
If they didn’t, they do now. The Coyotes, despite their struggles, have been around a while. Josh Doan now plays for Arizona State, a still-relatively new program thriving in the desert, and now playing in its own rink.
And Knies and Minnesota head to play Arizona State this weekend. And Knies is the most excited for it. He’ll be heading back to where it all started, and other than Christmas, returning home for the first time in four years. Although the team is on the road, Knies will feel right at home.
“I’m really excited to go back and be in my own house, and appreciate my parents cooking again. It’s a really awesome feeling that I get to be home for the holiday,” he said.
But in his youth playing years, there was not a lot of history there yet. Seeing Shane Doan and Auston Matthews find a way to the NHL, motivated him to keep on working.
“Shane Doan was my coach growing up for a long time, and I got to watch him play. … He was a big influence on me and my career,” he said.
Growing up in Arizona playing Hockey was a struggle for Knies, not being able to spend much time with school friends, and always on the move.
“It was different, having to miss school a lot more than other kids,” Knies said.
However, as all travel hockey players know, the times on the road is where bonding can be the best….