On Friday night, when the Calgary Flames selected forward Matthew Coronato at 13th overall, he wasn’t in Long Island (where he grew up) or suburban Chicago (where he played junior). Instead, he was in Michigan, where he’s attending USA Hockey’s summer camp.
After spending two seasons playing for the powerhouse Chicago Steel and winning a championship, he’s trying to get a foothold on another powerhouse: the United States national team that captured gold at last winter’s World Juniors. For a player who seems driven to improve and excel, the timing seems pretty appropriate.
The Steel have become a breeding ground for strong NHL talent in recent years. Speaking with the media following his selection, Coronato credited the staff with the Steel for creating a program where players develop and improve.
“The staff with the Steel does an unbelievable job,” said Coronato. “It’s Ryan Hardy, was the GM last year, Brock Sheahan the head coach, the whole staff, create an environment about player development, and individual success that leads to team success. They do a great job developing their guys and they’ve just had a great program running there for a couple years now.”
A forward that’s comfortable playing all three positions, Coronato’s time in the USHL has come to its end but he had a ton of success there. He improved on a strong rookie season in 2019-20 with a superb 2020-21 season that saw him named Forward of the Year, lead the league in plus/minus, finish among the goal-scoring leaders in every situation, and capture a Clark Cup as league champions.
His next stop? He’s off to Harvard, citing Crimson head coach Ted Donato’s success in developing players and helping prepare them for the next level. He rattled off a few things he wants to work on while he’s there.
“I think there’s a lot of things,” said Coronato. “I think I need to get stronger, ready to play against bigger, stronger, older guys. I think I definitely need to get faster, improve on my skating, mobility. I think there’s a lot of parts of my game that need improvement and I’m excited to get after it next year and do that.”
Coronato is college-bound, but he explained he hasn’t laid out a long-term plan in the NCAA. His focus is getting prepared to make the jump to the NHL.
“I want to play in the NHL,” said Coronato. “I want to play for the Flames. Not sure exactly how long I’ll be [in Harvard], but definitely want to do that.”