Herb spices up Meteors blueline
The Fort Erie Meteors found a valuable defenceman in the unlikeliest of places.
Matthew Herb was born and grew up in North Carolina where basketball and football rule and hockey is barely a blip on the radar of sports.
“My dad grew up in Detroit and was a Red Wings fan. He threw me on skates and I fell in love with it,” Herb said.
Herb quickly took to the game and played five years of the equivalent of AAA in the Wake Forest area of North Carolina.
“In five years of AAA in North Carolina I maybe played two home games,” Herb said. “We had to travel everywhere to play. It’s getting better but hockey there is minute.”
By the time he was a freshman in high school, Herb realized he would have to change locations if he wanted to continue to grow as a player.
“I had to move north. There’s no scouting in North Carolina,” he said.
So Herb packed his bags and headed to Brother Rice, a private high school in Michigan with also happened to be near his father’s parents.
“We looked into it and watched some of their games and really liked it,” he said. “I was impressed and so I moved. It was a good place for me to go.”
Herb graduated last year and knew he needed to find a good league to play in to keep his dream of playing Division 1 college alive.
“I knew I needed to go somewhere else to get better,” he said. “I knew of the league and knew it was a great league. Ultimately I wanted to play somewhere where hockey matters most and you can’t get much better than Ontario, Canada.”
Enter the Meteors, who were only too happy to give the big rearguard an opportunity.
“He’s a two-way defenceman,” Meteors assistant coach Anthony Passero said. “He’s big and he’s running one of the power-play units.”
Passero loves Herb’s upside.
“He’s good offensively, good defensively. He’s not yet great at either. He’s getting better. He has the potential. You can see it in his eyes. He moves well for his size. He shoots the puck well, his first pass is great and he defends hard. It’s putting it together for 60 minutes. That’s the only conversation I’ve had with him.”
Herb has collected six assists in 12 games this season as he acclimatizes himself to junior hockey.
“The skill level is way faster, way better,” Herb said. “You look at the game differently, it’s a whole different speed. I thought I was prepared for it and my coaches believed in me, too.”
Herb is also enjoying being in a hub of hockey.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “People in North Carolina don’t keep up to date with hockey. I was at The Keg for the first time and the waitress knew hockey was starting and said she couldn’t wait. Everyone takes about hockey. It’s totally different.”
The Meteors, who are off to a 7-4-1 start, host Pelham Saturday at 7 p.m. and in Welland Sunday.
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