. . . all subjects that tested Middle Schoolers at this year's National Geographic Bee.
Former Big Blue ice hockey standout and 2011 Courier News Player of the Year, Matt Beattie '11 was one of 10 players recently named to the 2017 New Jersey High School Ice Hockey Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place in April 2018.
A Mennen League Rookie of the Year his freshman year and a Star-Ledger Central Jersey Player of the Year in 2011, Matt, who played center for Pingry, was one of the best players ever to rise through the school's ice hockey program during his four years on the varsity team. His senior year, he led the team to a Skyland Conference Championship and was named to the All-Conference First Team. He closed his senior campaign with 94 points, a record that stands to this day.
After graduating from Pingry, Matt took a post-grad year at Phillips-Exeter Academy, where he was named the team's MVP, topping all New England prep players in scoring with 73 points on 39 goals and 34 assists in 28 games, falling just short of the school record for goals. (That record is held by Dan Weiniger '08, also a former Pingry player who played in a post-grad year at Exeter.)
He was drafted to play for the Vancouver Canucks—the first Hunterdon County native, to be drafted by the NHL, according to NJ.com—but opted instead to play for Yale University. During his freshman year at Yale, he was part of the Bulldog's 2012-13 NCAA Championship team. Injuries throughout his collegiate career curtailed much of his progress. Once recovered, and following graduation, he played professionally for a team in Strasbourg, France and then moved on to play for the Melbourne Mustangs in Australia for a season. Earlier this year, when the AIHL (Australian Ice Hockey League) Awards were announced, he was named Best Defenseman.
Former Head Coach of the Boys' Varsity Ice Hockey Team, John Magadini remembers Matt's skill on the rink as well as his character off. "He just had a wonderful knack for being able to take a pass from behind or on the side and within the blink of an eye, he had it on his stick and got a shot off. He was a natural talent and a selfless player. When you look at stats of his last two years, he had as many assists as he did goals. I can't say enough about how good a hockey player he was, or how hard he worked. I remember one state playoff game, we were a big underdog, and Matt came to the rink and said, 'This is not going to be my last game.' Sure enough, we ended up winning the game 11-1; he contributed seven of those points in goals and assists. He's that kind of guy. He could lift the whole team."
Along with fellow Big Blue teammates Pat Lackey '12 and Nick Branchina '12, who together, made a formidable line ("They were magic," according to Coach Mags), it was quite a team. Matt recalls his senior year fondly:
"Playing with Pat and Nick during my senior year was an absolute treat. All three of us were pretty fortunate because we got along really well off the ice and had even better chemistry on it. On top of that, we had a coach who understood our strengths and was able to get the most out of us on a daily basis. Without Nick, Pat, or Mags, the story of that year would be drastically different. We were all very lucky to have had each other."
Congratulations on your achievement, Matt!
Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, email@example.com