Wilmington, MA –
It’s not every day a professional hockey team needs your help. But today is that day for Matt Dalton, a 23-year-old goaltender who has been called upon to fill the spot of Olympian Tim Thomas
during this week’s practices.
“It’s good. It’s great to get the call to come up and get kind of a taste and see what it’s like and it’s pretty special,” Dalton said.
The Ontario native has split his time this season between the ECHL’s Reading Royals and the AHL’s Providence Bruins. Before that he spent two years with the Bemidji State University Beavers. In 2009, Dalton led them to their first NCAA Frozen Four appearance.
Dalton is using his time in Boston to work with Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa and sharpen his skills.
“Bob is going to work with him and fine-tune him,” head coach Claude Julien said. “I think anytime you have the chance to bring in a goaltender like that and then help him out, he’s a young goaltender and the team is invested in him and I think it’s a great opportunity for him.”
Dalton has played in 36 games for the Royals so far this season, registering a .905 save percentage and a 3.54 goals against average.
Rink location and roster aside, the speed is the biggest difference he’s noticed between his home team and the B’s, Dalton said.
“The speed, the shots too a bit,” he said. “Today I felt great, it just takes a little bit to get used to the timing and stuff. I felt yesterday as practice went on, I felt better and better.
“And today, it felt good.”
Though Thomas will return after his time at the Olympics has ended, Dalton said he will continue to enjoy his stay in Boston as long as he’s able.
“It was great. To get to come up here and get a taste of it, it’s pretty special,” Dalton said. “It’s been exciting.”