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Meet Shawn Matthias

Adrenaline junkie. World traveller. Left Winger.

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / WinnipegJets.com

Shawn Matthias lives for the adrenaline rush of playing at MTS Centre in front of over 15,000 fans. But when the final buzzer sounds, his search for that rush isn't over.

"Jumping out of planes, anything that can get a little bit of a rush. Adrenaline is always a fun thing for me," said Matthias. "In Winnipeg I've gone rock climbing, I try to do some bouldering on days off. I'm just trying to open my eyes. I like new opportunities and trying a lot of different things."

The Winnipeg Jets forward has done just that throughout a career that has seen him play in four NHL cities before signing a two-year contract with the Jets in the summer of 2016.

One example came in the summer of 2014, before his first full season with the Vancouver Canucks.

"I did sailing lessons that summer," the 29-year-old said. "I went through a whole course at Humber College. I also play some guitar. I haven't been playing a lot, but the last month or two, I've picked it up and started practicing again."

His summers in 2015 and 2016 were busy as well. Matthias got engaged last summer, and spent part of those months away from the grind of the NHL schedule travelling. He admits to being a bit of a travel junkie.

"I'm kind of always at home, looking up maps, watching travel videos, and just getting ideas of things I want to experience and do," he said. "I think that's just from getting older. You start to realize there is more to life than hockey. I try and enjoy every day and every minute."

Travel has also played a role in his hockey career. During his last of four seasons with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL, Matthias was selected to represent Canada at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

His team, filled with current NHL stars like Drew Doughty, P.K. Subban, John Tavares, and Steven Stamkos - just to name a few - went on to win the gold medal in overtime over Sweden.

"It was one of the best experiences of my life," Matthias said of the tournament. "My family was there, a lot of us had our families over there. Just to be overseas, see a new country, and to win it there was really special.

"I don't look back at it as often as some people do, but whenever I'm asked about it or something comes up, especially around Christmas time when you see all the commercials and being back in Canada and seeing how big that tournament is for Canadians, it definitely brings back good memories."

That 2008 season also saw Matthias play his first NHL game with the Florida Panthers, a franchise he would play 312 games with.

On March 4, 2014 Matthias was part of the trade that saw he and Jacob Markstrom head to Vancouver in exchange for Roberto Luongo and Steven Anthony.

He stayed in Vancouver until the end of the 2014-2015 season, before signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs in July. Fifty-one games later, he was traded to Colorado, and in 20 games with the Avalanche registered 11 points.

It was then that Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets came calling.

"Shawn is someone that we've had some interest in the past on," said Cheveldayoff. "The fit was right. He's shown some good things when he changed teams last year he can adapt to different systems really quickly."

Having the ability to adapt was just one of the lessons Matthias learned early in his career. He averaged over a point-per-game in his final two seasons in the OHL, but when he arrived in the NHL, he knew he had to change his game.

His arrival in Winnipeg was no different.

"Sometimes you have to reinvent yourself," he said, noting that one of his goals was to be more physical this season. "Play more with an edge, play more for my size, and be a good support system for my line mates. Go to the net hard, get pucks for them, stuff that I learned under (Maple Leafs head coach) Mike Babcock last year, and it worked in Colorado and played there with the players I did. It helped my teammates too."

Matthias made an immediate impact with the Jets, scoring the team's first goal of the regular season in what would be a 5-4 overtime win against Carolina. His line with Adam Lowry and Joel Armia quickly found chemistry early in the season as well.

With Matthias at 6'4", Armia at 6'3", and Lowry standing 6'5", opposing defencemen have their hands full trying to stop the cycle the three players create off the forecheck.

"We really complement each other well," said Lowry. "Joel has terrific skill, he makes a lot of plays happen for Shawn and I. Shawn's got a big body. He's good on the forecheck and he's good at creating things down low. We really complement each other. For whatever reason, it seems to click for us."

When both Matthias and Armia went down with lower body injuries at the start of November, they leaned on each other for support, and as workout partners.

"It helped having Joel there to push me and work hard with me," said Matthias, who would miss 25 games with the injury. "We worked hard. We worked out every day, we skated a lot, and did a lot of bag skates."

The close bonds he's developed with his linemates is only a glimpse into the life Matthias has enjoyed in Winnipeg.

"I really enjoy where I live, I have some nice neighbours that really help me out. I've got a good little routine going," said Matthias. "It's been great. Guys have been really easy to get along with. This time of year, you've already got close to a lot of guys. Getting to play with (Lowry) and (Armia) every night, I'm really lucky to have them as line mates, and be a part of this team."

While the thrill of the playoff chase will keep Matthias' pursuit of adrenaline filled adventures satisfied for now, he knows that when the off season rolls around, he'll get back to work on his bucket list.

"I write down things that I want to do each year, and I try to go after them," he said. "Don't get me wrong, a lot of it has to do with hockey, and staying fit, eating well, and doing the right things for myself. My focus is 100 percent on hockey.

"But at the same time you need things to get away from the game. I have a lot of things I want to experience and do after the season is done, and after I'm done playing hockey."

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