Nutley Male Athlete of the Month

Johnny Matrona
NHS ice hockey

“”Johnny came into this season feeling he had something to prove, as he wasn’t satisfied with how the previous season went. He knew that he was capable of a much better year, and you can tell from our first scrimmage in November that he was determined to prove that to everyone, whether it was in games or even practices. He is the absolute backbone to our team, and I believe he carries a bit of a chip on his shoulder, which has made his compete-level unmatched. He has made countless big saves for us throughout the year, and I know that the whole team plays with an extra level of confidence knowing he is back there for us at all times. I’m proud of the way he has stepped up this season, and I think the fact that we won the McMullen championship this year just rewards his hard work and determination. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Coach Andy Surowiec

What got you interested in playing hockey?
I first learned to skate when I was around 4 years old when my dad asked if I wanted to try hockey. I learned to skate with the Nutley Clifton Ice Hockey Club and their clinic program for kids who wanted to learn to skate and play hockey. Ever since then I loved the sport of hockey and have played it ever since. I started as a forward for the Nutley Clifton mite team, but the next year I switched to goalie. I played for Nutley Clifton up until I was 11 years old and then went to play for the North Jersey Avalanche and their Tier 2 and Tier 1 programs. This past year I switched teams and played for the Devils Youth 18u AA team.

What skills do you need to be a successful hockey goalie?
Playing goalie is not an easy position by any means. You need to be able to have very good balance and need to be able to skate laterally with no problems. Also, you need to make sure your angles are good and that you are in the right place in the crease at a good depth so you are covering most of the net. Your reaction time has to be good too in order to throw your body in front of the puck. But most of all you can’t be scared of the puck and back away from it or else you’ll let not only yourself but your team down.

How do you bond with your teammates?
One of the best parts about hockey is playing with your friends and doing something you both enjoy. We are always cracking jokes and laughing and having a good time and it really brings another sense of fun to the sport.

Do you have a favorite team? Favorite athlete?
My favorite hockey team is the New York Rangers and my favorite player is Henrik Lundqvist, the starting goalie for the Rangers. I love the way he plays the game and how confident he is when he plays the game.

Who are your role models or influences?
My role models are definitely my parents and my Aunt Norka as they have shown me how to be a good person and the things it takes to succeed. They always remind me and my brother that you can’t be selfish and that everything isn’t about yourself. They also talk about being respectful and responsible and to do everything with pride and care about what you do and say and have a purpose for everything. But most of all they have taught me to work hard and that if you want something you have to work for it.

Do you have any hobbies or extracurricular activities?
I also play lacrosse and like to play video games and hang out with my friends when I’m not playing hockey. I’m also a huge movie guy and watch movies on a regular basis.

Any favorite highlights or memories of playing for Nutley?
My favorite memory for playing for Nutley is definitely when we won the McMullen Cup and Nutley’s first championship in many years. It was a great feeling to get that win and is something I will never forget.

If you had a dream car, what would it be?
Definitely would be the Tesla Model S, but I love my Jeep Wrangler and the new versions of the Wrangler.