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A REAL GOAL-GETTER

Creative, elusive, and a threat in all three zones - Matt Coronato is one of the most prolific goal-scorers in the draft

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

The numbers are blinding.

Scorching.

Simply unreal.

When Matt Coronato entered the 2020-21 campaign, he felt there was a real shot at besting the 18 tucks he recorded the year prior.

But that, as The Office dunce Andy Bernard once quipped, was a "classic undersell."

Fifty-one games later, the sharp-shooting right-winger has left an indelible mark on the Chicago Steel franchise.

"It felt pretty good," Coronato spoke of his 48-goal campaign, setting a new high-water mark for single-season strikes.

"We had a team with a lot of really good players.

"Talented, all the way through.

"Being able to play on a team like that automatically gives you more confidence to go out there and perform. Being a part of that was really fun and it definitely made it easier to have success, personally."

Only three other players in USHL history have scored more in one season: Kevin Roy, who found the back of the net 54 times in 2011-12, is the only player in the last 25 years to do so. Before that, former NHLers Jason Blake and Mark Mowers each had 51-goal seasons in 1993-94.

But there's a caveat.

Roy's 54 goals were tallied over 59 games, while Coronato had only 51-game slate to work with. Therefore, his average of 0.94 goals per game is the most of any USHL league leader in goals in the Tier 1 era (2002-present), and second all-time to Mowers.

"Coming into the season, there were a lot of things I wanted to improve on so I could take my game to the next level," Coronato said. "My skating, for example, was a big focus for me between my first and second years.

"Obviously, my shot took a step forward, too.

"But, honestly, a big part of how it all came together was opportunity. With it being my second year with the Steel, I think I was given more responsibility, playing a lot on the powerplay and, really, in all situations. That helped a lot and having more opportunity led to even more confidence when I had the puck on my stick.

"To me, those are the two things that really helped me elevate my game. And once you get going and start feeling good about yourself, you start seeing the puck go in on a consistent basis, you've got to keep it rolling."

 

Video: Highlights from draft-eligible Coronato's season

 

Coronato combines everything you want in a goal-scorer into a tidy, 5-foot-10, 183-lb. package.

He's an assassin on skates.

Creative, elusive, and a threat in all three zones. He has a big-league release and never takes his foot off the gas.

He offers a unique blend of natural talent and a punishing work ethic. All of it, oozing
at the seams.

Simply put: He's a cut above in a class filled with offensive firepower.

Coronato won the USHL scoring title by a 16-goal margin over Steel teammate Erik Middendorf and Muskegon Lumberjacks forward Danil Gushchin.

Sixteen.

The difference was the largest in league history.

And for an encore, he put up another nine goals and 13 points in only eight playoff games to help lead the Steel to a Clark Cup title.

"I love watching a guy like Brayden Point," Coronato said of his innate, offensive instincts. "He's really creative, a great skater, and someone I try to learn from. He's a little undersized, but knows how to use his body, protect the puck and get a quick, hard, accurate shot off.

"That's definitely something I try to impart in my game."

The Huntington, N.Y., native has committed to Harvard University for the upcoming season, where he's hoping to elevate his game further.

Recognizing the pace of the NCAA will be another step up, he's hoping to use the rest of the off-season to bulk up in the gym and add another layer of quickness to his game.

And when he does, look out.

"You can never stop improving your skating," Coronato said. "My technique is something I've always put an emphasis on, but you can never, truly, be satisfied. The pace at the next level is so high, so I have to be ready and take a step forward in that regard.

"This summer in the gym, I definitely want to put on some weight, gain a few pounds and come in a little stronger ready to play with the bigger guys in college.

"I'm excited.

"I know it's going to be a good challenge for me, but with the draft coming up and the season I just had, I'm more than ready for it."

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