The following feature appears in the November 16th edition of the Boston Bruins Prospect Report. Download the complete report, which includes features, upcoming games and statistics on all Bruins prospects, by clicking here.
BostonBruins.com — Matt Grzelcyk was exploring the depths of Twitter, something he said he does every day, when, happily, he came across his own name.
The Boston University freshman defenseman had been named Hockey East Rookie of the Week for the week of November 12.
"It was a great honor," said Grzelcyk. "I was pretty surprised, because of all the freshmen around the league — especially on our team — it’s nice to be recognized."
The accolade came on the heels of a memorable week of hockey for the Bruins prospect; a week that featured Grzelcyk's first collegiate goal, on his home ice, against Boston U's arch rival Boston College.
"It was definitely a dream come true," Grzelcyk said of his first tally for the Terriers. "Getting it against BC; it’s something I will never forget."
The defenseman's rookie campaign, though still young, has seen the freshman encounter a good deal of success. Grzelcyk has been a point-a-game player, adding seven assists to his one goal through the Terriers first eight contests.
"It’s probably a little bit unexpected because I’m usually not a point-getter," Grzelcyk said. "The coaching staff has had a lot of trust in all of the freshmen.
"They’ve allowed us to kind of — not implement the systems as much — to try to let us play how we know we can.
"Not freelance," he added, "but kind of give us a little bit of structure and let us figure out plays on our own."
For Grzelcyk, the transition to college and the urban BU campus was probably as far from the norm as one could deviate.
Despite being a homegrown product (Grzelcyk was born in Charlestown), he spent his last two years in Ann Arbor, Michigan competing with the United States Development Team.
Now, back in the Commonwealth, Grzelcyk is almost re-assimilating to New England, while not forgetting the lessons he picked up in the Midwest from USA Hockey.
"Spending the last few years in Ann Arbor has helped with the transition," Grzelcyk said. "I’m just really happy to be here now."
And the freshman has been a quick learn the collegiate ropes.
From the start, in BU’s first exhibition tilt against the University of Toronto, Grzelcyk looked calm and comfortable on the ice and moved the puck with ease and pace. He made heady plays, used space well and even picked up an assist on his third-ever shift, coming on the power play.
"I’ve liked Matt Grzelcyk since he’s been at Belmont Hill," said BU Head Coach Jack Parker after the Toronto game. "I knew he was going to be a really good college player, and we’re very happy to have him here, and he’s going to be a terrific freshman for us."
Boston Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney also spoke about Grzelcyk’s transition to the NCAA level, but did not seem surprised by the freshman’s quick progress.
"Matt’s hockey IQ has allowed him to make the transition pretty smoothly," Sweeney said. "Despite his size, not being the biggest player as a defenseman, I think he recognizes those are his challenges, accepts them, and understands them."
The freshman’s size has not seemed to be a hindrance as he’s been thrust into the middle of Hockey East action and sees situational time on the ice often reserved for more veteran players.
"Playing the last few years on the national team really helped me, especially playing against 14 colleges last year," Grzelcyk said of his new role. "It’s helped me adjust so far, playing against older guys, but I’ve got some experience playing on the power play.
"It hasn’t been too tough of a transition," added the Bruins prospect. "With that development [over] the last few years, it’s really helped me progress as a player."
That progress could also someday see rise through the ranks of amateur hockey, up to the pro level, where he might find a Black & Gold jersey waiting for him at TD Garden.
"If he continues to process the game the way that he does, as his game gets faster at the next levels, then he's going to be just fine," said Sweeney.