The Matty Diaries, Part I: Quest for a Reunion with Outdoor Hockey

[OFB note: We first learned of Mathieu Perreault’s deep-rooted love affair with playing hockey outdoors when we interviewed him after an outdoor Hershey Bears’ practice last season. Other Capitals share his passion for sure, but few find themselves in Matty’s circumstances late in 2010: recently recalled by the Caps, auditioning game by game for retention with the parent club and wondering, literally day by day, if he’ll be a participant in what is perhaps the biggest game in Capitals’ history — the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field. So we approached MP85 and asked him if he’d share with us a diary of his reflections and emotions about playing hockey outdoors as a youth and potentially being a part of this year’s Winter Classic. Below is Matty’s first diary entry, and we’ll hear from him again this week and after the big game — assuming he’s in it and assuming it doesn’t get rained out.]

The last time I spoke with On Frozen Blog before being recalled to Washington was after a Sunday night game in Hershey last month. They told me, it would be a good idea to be recalled in December so that I could accompany the Capitals to Pittsburgh for the Winter Classic New Years Day. Maybe this is how it will work out. Last week I spoke again with them, and I was asked, at what point during this recall did I first begin to think about the possibility of participating in the Winter Classic? I only think about playing one game, and from there I always go day to day. And then I am here one more day and one more day . . . and as games go by, I did begin to think about it. We were getting closer, and I was like, ‘Well, I might be playing that game that day.’

I am very excited. I cannot wait for that day if I can get there.

The hardest aspect is trying to make arrangements for family and friends. For sure I will get my dad and mom tickets for Pittsburgh. That’s for sure. And I have already looked into booking flights for them. The way I play right now I feel like my game is good so that I can be here for that game. The game in Pittsburgh is sold out, and I had to battle to get two tickets for my parents, so for friends and other family, it will be hard to get additional tickets, but just having my parents there will be special for me.

My most special memories in hockey are from my years playing outside back home. Every day I don’t have school I go out to skate all morning — all morning! — then I have lunch, then go out to skate again all afternoon, go home for dinner, then go back out to skate at night. I could easily go out for six hours or more just playing and playing with my brother and my friends. I couldn’t wait for the snow and ice to come so I could go out and play. I feel like this is the reason why I may be a good hockey player, practicing so much at outdoor rinks. The emphasis is on skills out there — that’s all you do out there. Skills and passing with your friends. I feel like these skates outdoors helped me greatly with my career, to be out there every day and practicing.

I spent so much time outside — as much practicing outside as practicing inside with more structured practices. But even when I practiced indoors I would come home and go back outside and play more. I love the game so much. This is all I’ve done with my whole life.

Because of the heavy snow in Quebec, sometimes we would play just 15 minutes and then spend the next 15 minutes shoveling, then play another 15 minutes before needing to start shoveling again. But we loved the game so much that we didn’t care. We had 10, 15 guys who would shovel the snow, so our enthusiasm never lessened.

The games always would involve my brother, the players on my youth teams, and friends from the neighborhood. We would play all day long. My brother was out there with me all of the time.

I am supposed to tell you the most number of goals I scored during a game of shinny during all of my skates growing up. But I would play for so long, it is perhaps impossible for me to say. I would score so many goals in those days — it is safe to say more than a dozen for sure!

How cold was it skating outdoors in Quebec? I would sometimes have to wear three pairs of pants in order to skate outside in our winter games. Three shirts and a jacket, too, and a scarf that was so big you could only see my eyes through it! I think you could say that in all my layers I looked bigger than D.J. King!

We would go out when it was minus 25 or 30 Celsius. We had a little warming house we could retreat to when it became so cold our feet could not take the cold any longer. But always we would return to our games after we warmed up. We were going out no matter what the weather was.

This game in Pittsburgh means so much to me. It is day to day for me, but I feel really good about my game. I really think I am going to get there.

This entry was posted in American Hockey League, Hershey Bears, Mathieu Perreault, Shinny, The Matty Diaries, Washington Capitals, Winter Classic 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Matty Diaries, Part I: Quest for a Reunion with Outdoor Hockey

  1. chris says:

    Nice write up.I’ve long liked Matti and his stellar play of late does not hurt. I’ve concluded that Perreault means “The Little Beast” in French and have so dubbed him.

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  4. Darren says:

    Matty P has become our family’s favorite Caps player and we hope he is better enough to play in the Winter Classic. We’d love to see him on the roster the remainder of the year. We’ve dubbed him “Little Ovie”. Nice article.

  5. Scott B. says:

    I always enjoy seeing Matty play at Hershey. A ton of energy and always blazing around the rink. He out-hustles just about everyone around him. I’m really happy to see him and Andrew Gordon and Neuvy get their chances with the Caps this year. I think it would be great to see all three of them in the WC this year. I hope Matty’s busted nose won’t keep him out of the game.

  6. Cathy W says:

    I so hope that Matty gets to play in the Winter Classic. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  7. DarkStranger44 says:

    Get well, Matty. Actually, the name Perreault is derived from the name Pierre which is the French form of Peter. And we all know from the Bible that Peter is the rock on which Christ built his church. And, so it shall be, Matt P. is our little rock and a foundation for scoring.

  8. chris says:


    wasnt really looking for a lessen in word origins just a tongue in cheek way to justify our nickname. good info though

  9. Dave says:

    @Darren: in our house we call him Pocket Ov

  10. I hope to see more entries like this from Matty P! I hope you are back for the classic and remain a vital part of the Caps that you have proven yourself to be!

  11. knxvil says:

    I went to a Syracuse Crunch game back in November and came out a Hershey Bears fan, all thanks to MP. Even better, I grew up in Arlington, VA, and relish the chance to get back into hockey (as a Caps fan in Boston, yikes!). Merci beaucoup for the double win, and I hope to see #85 on the ice in Pittsburgh!

  12. aphid69 says:

    Thanks to Mathieu Perreault aka Matty P aka Perry for taking the time to share directly with your fans! Your enthusiasm for hockey and joy in playing definitely comes through! And thanks to OFB for making this possible.

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