By contributor Reid Eccles
With November fading into December, the Nanaimo Clippers are nearing the halfway mark of their 60-game season. The Clippers’ 33 points in their first 27 games earned them the top spot of the British Columbia Hockey League’s (BCHL) five-team Island Division. The Clippers currently rank fifth league-wide. A large part of the Clippers’ success so far has been the scoring output generated by the Clippers’ first line forwards Sheldon Rempal, Devin Brosseau, and Matt Hoover. Clippers captain Brosseau and point-scoring leader Rempal are returning players who played together on the first line with last year’s captain Brendan Taylor. This time last year, Hoover was in Ontario.
A native of Brantford, Ontario, Hoover played his 2014-2015 season with the Kingston Voyageurs of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), totaling 24 points in 47 games and an additional 66 penalty minutes. The Voyageurs’ playoff run was spoiled in game seven of the OJHL Cup finals when the Toronto Patriots took the series 4-3. Hoover scored four goals and contributed a total seven points to the Voyageurs’ 24-game post-season.
Joining the Clippers this season meant filling Taylor’s role as the top centreman on the squad, and Hoover has stepped up to that role. So far, Hoover has tallied 36 points in 26 games as a Clipper, only drawing 34 penalty minutes in the process. Of his 6 points, 19 are goals, and Hoover’s 11 power play goals are the second highest in the league. Hoover currently ranks fourth in league scoring—tied in points with line mate Brosseau averaging 1.3 points per game. Hoover has been a natural fit to the Rempal-line. He has meshed well with Rempal and Brosseau, who have been line mates for three seasons, developing strong first line chemistry. It is hard to tell Hoover has only been a Clipper for half a season. At five foot nine, 19-year-old Hoover isn’t the biggest skater on the ice, but he isn’t afraid to play aggressively. Hoover’s stature hasn’t prevented him from grinding in the offensive zone—he has been a presence in front of the net, and has been clutch on the power play, scoring more goals than any other Clipper.
Hoover is committed to Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, to play for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 Canisius Golden Eagles. The Clippers acquired Hoover in a trade with Kingston that included 20-year-old forwards Anthony Rinaldi and Jacob Hanlon leaving Nanaimo. The BCHL mandate allows a maximum of six 20-year-old players per team. Since Rempal and Brosseau turned 20 this year the trade panned out well for the Clippers.
With Hoover’s 20th birthday in early 2016 he will be eligible to return to the Clippers next season if he chooses to play another year in Juniors before entering the NCAA. With Rempal and Brosseau both committed to Clarkson University, (NCAA); Hoover may be leading the Clippers next season. He may have to guide a new pair of wingers as they try to fill the voids on either side of him, much like the void Taylor left at centre ice that Hoover filled this season.
Hoover wears Taylor’s old #19 jersey.