Tom Anastos and MSU Hockey Add More NHL Drafted Talent in Forward Matt DeBlouw

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Incoming Michigan State hockey forward Matt DeBlouw was busy helping his Muskegon Lumberjacks through the playoffs when he received a surprising phone call in January 2011. Rick Comley, whom he had committed to play hockey for, had called to tell him he would soon be announcing his retirement from the helm of the Spartan hockey program. “It was during our playoff run my first year in the USHL,” DeBlouw recalls.  “Coach Comley told us the week before (it was announced), which was real good knowing and not (having it be) a surprise.”

Not long after, newly named head coach Tom Anastos followed up with him. “He came to our game and talked to us for a while, and that's when I knew I definitely wanted to stay." He added, “He seemed like an honest guy. He watched me and just seemed real genuine.  My family and I like it here, because they’re all straight shooters – just nice and trustworthy.”

The focus on work ethic is also a plus, he says, as Anastos has not been one to shy away from benching star players he feels have not earned playing time.

“That's exactly how I want it to be,” DeBlouw says. “If someone's working harder than me and doing better, I'll give him my ice time.  It's about team, and we'll have more success with that.”

The Chesterfield, Michigan, native also grew up a Spartan fan and says being in East Lansing to actually play for the team is “a dream come true.”

He says after watching the team on TV while he was growing up, even walking into the locker room and seeing his name above a locker was a thrill. “It was only a piece of tape, but it's pretty neat.  Working out here, seeing all the guys and seeing the history on the wall - it's great."  He continued, “It's a great feeling knowing there are a lot of guys who have been through here and that the staff here knows what they’re doing, so hopefully they can help me get there, too.”

He says his strong skating, penalty kill and face off skills should help him get to the next level, although he needs to get stronger.  “I need to work on my strength and make smarter plays, too.”  And that should come naturally as he gains experience and continues to grow as a man and as a hockey player. “I think moving away for the past two years (to play USHL) grew me up,” he says, “but this is another step up, so you've just got to trust in the guys who are taking care of you.” 

 He claims to be a (former Detroit Red Wing) Kris Draper-like player, although he would like to be a (Pavel) Datsyuk, admitting that “no one is (like Datsyuk).” He says that although Draper was put into a spot he did not like early on in his career, he kept with it for the team.  “And that’s what I’m all about.”

DeBlouw’s team-first mentality carries over into his family life, too, and he says he is happy to be able to be away at school but still close to home.  “I couldn't imagine being far away from my family,” he admits.  “They do everything for me, and they're always in my corner when I need a battle.  I love my family.  It takes the distance to grow up, though, so it's good being away.”

 He also embraces his new role as a role model, using the young hockey campers asking for autographs as examples. “It means a lot,” he says.  “I was one of those kids once growing up and thinking I might have a shot, and now it's here. My little brother looks up to me a lot, which feels good.”

And while the young man who was selected by the Calgary Flames in the seventh round of the most recent NHL draft hopes to have many years of hockey left, he says the fact that he is officially a Michigan State Spartan is finally beginning to sink in. “It did a little bit when I got the shorts that say ‘Michigan State Hockey’ and my number.  When I have my sticks, it will set in even more. I'm just living the dream right now.”