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The right fit

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

Photos: Miami, Ohio Athletics

Time sure does go by fast.

Miami Redhawks hockey player Matthew Barbolini remembers when he first stepped on the ice as a freshman. The nerves that every freshman has as they just try and find there way through school - just hoping to fit.

“I feel like I have grown a lot as a person and as a player since I have been here at Miami - and I have had a lot of great memories, and I am glad with my decision to come here,” stated Barbolini. “It has been a great four years so far, and just trying to finish it up off strong.”

Four years later, Barbolini has become a big part of what Miami has been doing on the ice. He has been a big part of the team’s success, and he has enjoyed every minute of it.

“Time definitely goes by fast,” stated Barbolini. “You always hear it from the seniors, when you are a freshman and sophomore, to definitely enjoy it - because time goes by quick. Now, that I am a senior, you kind of realize that it goes by faster than you can imagine.”

His time has gone by pretty fast but Barbolini has always been happy with his decision.

Playing a couple years in the USHL, Barbolini had options when it came to college hockey. But there was just something that drew him to Miami.

Miami had everything that Barbolini wanted in a university. Miami plays in one of the best, if not the best, conference in college hockey. He also meshed well with his coach, and believed in everything that he said.

It was that kind of trust between the two that led him to believe that Miami was going to be a great fit for him.

“It’s a great school, and a beautiful place to be,” stated Barbolini. “Miami has great facilities, and plays in the best conference in college hockey. The biggest thing was the coaches and just connecting with Chris Bergeron. He’s such a great leader and an amazing coach. I just feel like I connected really well with him and everything he had to say. It was kind of just that relationship, and trust with him, that led me to come here.”

Since he has stepped foot on the campus as a freshman, it has been pretty hard to get Barbolini off the ice. The senior has appareled in 117 games, and counting, during his four-year career. Being able to be counted on every single game is something Barbolini is most proud off.

His coaches, and teammates, know that if there is a game to be played Barbolini will be ready to go. He will be ready to play his physically style of hockey, and give the team the boost it needs.

“I’ve been fortunate to have pretty good health throughout my playing career,” stated Barbolini. “I take a lot of pride in how I treat my body. Doing the right things off the ice. I just make sure that I am ready to go every night, and just make sure I am physically ready to put out there the best version of myself.”

A big forward, Barbolini’s goal totals have gone up every season he has played for the Redhawks. In a 117 games Barbolini has 82 points (34 goals, 48 assist). He has a nose for the net, and it shows.

His point total also is because he is just trying to be a better player every year. Barbolini doesn’t rest on the fact that he may have had a good season a year ago. He continues to work, and improve, his game each and every season.

He continues to work on the little things that could help him at the next level.

“I think I am just trying to become a better player every year,” stated Barbolini. “I’m just trying to focus on every year becoming a better player, and I think my point totals have kind of reflected that. If anyone has watched me play over the years, they will see that my game has just elevated over the years. It’s just about getting stronger and faster, and I think I have done a good job of that during my college career.”

Barbolini is completely focused on this year and getting this team to the NCAA tournament. As his senior year is starting to come to and end, he is starting to think about the future. Last year, the Williamsville native was invited to take part in the Vancouver Canucks’ developmental camp.

Barbolini has the size (6-foot-2) and game that can translate to the next level. So, seeing this hockey thing through is something that he definitely wants to try and do.

“Hopefully move on to the next level (when asked what he wants to do after college). Just try and see what I can do with this game,” stated Barbolini. “Hopefully be successful at it.”

Considering Barbolini even plays hockey is a miracle in itself. His family is more of a soccer family, with everyone playing the sport. Barbolini even played soccer growing up, along with hockey. He played as a kid, and even played one year of soccer at Williamsville East High School.

While he dabbled in the sport, it was his brother that went on to play Division II soccer in college, and his sister wasn’t a bad soccer player - either. He laughs when he said he learned all his soccer skills from the both of them.

“When I grew up, no one if my family really played hockey,” stated Barbolini. “Everyone played soccer. My brother and sister played soccer. I played soccer as a kid, but specialized more toward hockey. I did play one year of high school soccer. My brother went on to play Division II, and my sister was a good player, too. I always learned soccer through them, and decided to play one year of high school. But, it definitely helps out a lot playing different sports. I’m happy that I did it.”

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