Shayne Gostisbehere won’t be the only Union College hockey player in the Philadelphia Flyers’ training camp in September.
Dutchmen senior left winger Matt Hatch signed a free-agent contract with the Flyers on Tuesday. The deal is with the Flyers’ AHL affiliate in Allentown, Pa. Hatch will join Gostisbehere, who signed with the Flyers shortly after the Dutchmen won the NCAA hockey title in April, when the team begins camp in Voorhees, N.J.
The 24-year-old Hatch is the fourth member of the national champions to sign with an NHL club, joining Gostisbehere, the junior defenseman who was the Flyers’ third-round pick in the 2012 draft; senior defenseman Mat Bodie (free-agent deal with the New York Rangers); and senior left winger Daniel Carr (free-agent contract with the Montreal Canadiens).
“I’m really excited,” said Hatch, a Massena native who had 34 goals and 39 assists in 148 career games. “It’s been a long process. I’m really very excited to get going and being a part of a world-class organization.”
The first call Hatch received shortly after the announcement was from Gostisbehere.
“That’s going to be good to have a familiar face,” Hatch said. “He’s been to the development camps. It’s going to be great to have someone you know down there.”
Even though he will start the year in the minors, Hatch wants to make it to the NHL.
“If you ask any hockey player, that’s their goal. They want to play in the NHL,” Hatch said. “That’s my goal. It’s been my goal since I came to Union. I’m going to keep chasing that goal. It’s going to be a big summer ahead of me with training. That’s my ultimate goal. I haven’t met my goal yet, and I’m going to keep fighting to get there.”
Hatch had career highs in goals (13) and points (21) this season. But it was more than just the offensive production that impressed Union coach Rick Bennett.
“Matt has something that a lot of players don’t have,” Bennett said. “He’s got tremendous foot speed. He provides a lot of energy. In his time here at Union, he just did a lot of things that a lot of guys don’t like to do. He did a lot of dirty-area stuff. Guys like to play with him, too. He can make his line better by doing the stuff that guys don’t like to do.”
Hatch had a productive postseason, collecting four goals and three assists over the final six games. He opened the scoring against Colgate in the second period of the ECAC Hockey tournament championship game and added an assist in the Dutchmen’s 5-2 win, giving them their third straight tourney title.
In the NCAA tournament East Regional, Hatch scored twice in a 5-2 semifinal victory over Vermont. He opened the scoring with a short-handed goal 4:15 into the game, and he finished it off on an empty-net goal with 2:43 remaining in the third period. In the 3-1 title-game victory over Providence, Hatch scored with 3:47 left in the game and 1:18 after the Friars had pulled to within 2-1.
Hatch had an assist on Daniel Ciampini’s first-period goal in the Dutchmen’s 7-4 victory over Minnesota in the NCAA title game.
“It gave us a little more time to be seen and to play under pressure circumstances in different venues,” Hatch said. “That helped me a lot going forward.”