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Know Your Neighbors: Rockford IceHogs’ Matthew Highmore

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This young hockey player is emerging as one of the best on Rockford’s AHL affiliate. Meet the young talent and learn what it’s like to be a professional hockey player.

Matthew Highmore, Rockford IceHogs hockey player (Samantha Behling photo)

Matthew Highmore, Rockford IceHogs hockey player (Samantha Behling photo)

On the ice, Matthew Highmore is one of the best.

Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks signed the 21-year-old hockey player, an undrafted free agent, to a three-year contract. Highmore was fresh off a successful season with the Saint John Sea Dogs, a major junior ice hockey team in the New Brunswick province of Canada.

Now, almost a year into his professional career, Highmore is consistently proving his talent. He’s currently the leading goal-scorer on the Blackhawk’s affiliate team, the Rockford IceHogs, and is second in total points (which counts both assists and goals). At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before the young talent is called up to play for the Blackhawks.

Where are you from originally? What led you to get started in hockey?
I’m from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia [Canada]. It’s a smaller town, but we have everything from junior sports to a couple of colleges. I started playing hockey on our backyard rink with my grandparents and my dad. We also had a big two-car garage, so we used to play in there all the time.

What did you learn playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs?
In my five years at Saint John, I learned how to deal with the ups and downs of hockey. It’s a very tough sport emotionally and mentally. A lot of my coaches had a really big impact on me. Consistency is key and that’s the biggest thing I learned.

Now you have a three-year contract with the Blackhawks. What do you hope to accomplish during this time?

For me, nowadays, I’ve learned to keep my goals small. You want to continue to achieve those small goals. For my first year, I want to obviously contribute to the team here in Rockford and do the best I can and put my team in a position to succeed. I think with team success comes personal success. So that’s the biggest thing for me.

What does your schedule look like with the IceHogs?
A normal day for us – we get to the rink around 8:45 a.m., have breakfast, get prepared for practice by stretching, taping our sticks, doing the little things, and maybe we’ll have some meetings. Practice will start around 11 a.m. and we’ll go for an hour. You put your work in, and after that, you go home and look after your body, whether you have meal prep to do, or you have to make something for dinner. It’s kind of a relaxing afternoon.

How would you describe your role on this team?
For me, it’s to be a good two-way player. Whether it’s penalty killing, scoring a goal or making a simple play at the end of the game, I think it’s about playing hard and contributing at both ends of the rink.

You’ve been a leading goal-scorer this year for the IceHogs. What motivates you?
The biggest thing that motivates me is winning. It’s very cliché, but I’m somebody who despises losing. When you get that winning feeling, and you win championships and big games, you just always want that feeling.

What do you love most about the sport?

The competitiveness. The feeling that you went out and laid everything out on the line. Hockey is obviously something I grew up with, and from day one I loved competing; it didn’t matter who it was against. The competitiveness is the coolest part for me.

What do you think about fighting in hockey?

Obviously, it’s quite a debated topic. For me, I believe it belongs in the game. Does there need to be two or three fights a game? No, I don’t think so. But in order to protect players and keep it honest, I think it’s best left in the game.

Outside of hockey, what are some of your hobbies?

My downtime consists all of sports. I’m a huge sport lover. I know that some guys enjoy getting away from the competitiveness, but in the summer, I want to beat my buddies in golf or tennis; those are the two biggest hobbies for me. I always say if I wasn’t a hockey player, I’d play other sports.

Who is your main support system and what do they think of your success?
My main support system would be my parents, along with my grandparents and my sister. They’ve been nothing but supportive throughout my whole journey, and I can’t thank them enough. Another big contributor would be my agent as well. They’ve always believed in me.

Anything else you want to add?

We have a very young group here at the IceHogs and I think we’ll continue to get better. A little bit of inconsistency will help us grow. You never want to be inconsistent, but we’re working as hard as we can to be the best that we can.

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