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Matsumoto taken by Flyers

When the Philadelphia Flyers selected Jonathan Matsumoto in the third round of the NHL draft over the weekend, they made him BGSU’s highest pick since Peter Ratchuk was taken in the first round by the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.

Matsumoto’s selection makes him the third BGSU athlete taken in one of the four major professional leagues this year. Omar Jacobs was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL and Alan Brech was taken by the Cleveland Indians of MLB.

Somewhat unexpected, however, was how high Matsumoto was selected.

Prior to the draft www.hockeysfuture.com ranked him as the 18th best prospect in the NCAA, yet come draft day he was just the sixth college player selected and was the third of eight players taken from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Taken ahead of him were the University of Michigan’s Mark Mitera (1st round) and Miami University’s Jeff Zatkoff (3rd round).

Matsumoto said he was just sitting around watching a movie Sunday when teammate Michael Hodgson informed him of the pick.

“I thought he was messing around with me,” he said.

But after checking his computer and finding out he wasn’t being messed with, “I almost lost my mind,” he said. “I was definitely expecting to be picked a little lower.”

Taken 79th overall, Matsumoto is the Falcons’ highest draft pick in any sport this year but unlike Jacobs and Brech, who both gave up their final year of NCAA eligibility to play at the next level, he has every intention of returning for at least one more season.

“My original intention was to stay in school no matter what happened and right now nothing has changed,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean he is turning up his nose at the Flyers. They will retain his rights until the August after he graduates and could make him an offer at any point.

NHL Agent Peter Baptista, who represents former Falcons Don Morrison and Mike Falk, said it is not uncommon for teams to use this strategy.

“If you take a look at everyone who was drafted they are 18 and 19 years old,” he said. “A lot of times it takes a couple of years for a player to develop.”

And by staying in school, Matsumoto will have a chance to improve his game and make his parents happy by coming closer to earning a degree.

“We have always told him that we want him to finish university,” said his mother, Winara. “So he knows where we stand, but we also know his career is something that is important to him.”

In fact, his mother said hockey is her son’s first love. She said when he was just three-years-old his father taped the Stanley Cup Finals. She would come downstairs in the morning and he would already be up studying the games, rewinding them play-by-play to get a better look.

“And it wasn’t just the goals. He would rewind little plays too,” she said. “His interest and desire for hockey was there before anything else.”

Matsumoto credits his father for turning him on to the game at such an early age but said it has been his time at BGSU that has prepared him to play at the next level.

“My time at BG has been ncredible. I’ve learned a lot from the coaches we have and just playing at a higher level, playing against good teams and playing with better teammates is what has really helped me the most,” he said.

Falcon assistant coach Ron Fogarty said Matsumoto brings puck skills, vision and creativity to the ice, which will help him to succeed at the next level. He also stated that he needs to add a little more grit to his game before he is truly ready to move on.

Other areas Fogarty thinks he could improve in are his defense and shooting.

“He has a great shot but he has to use it a lot more and on defense he will have an opportunity to work on his penalty killing,” he said.

If he is able to improve on last year, CCHA goalies are in big trouble. Matsumoto finished the 2005 season with career bests in goals (20), assists (28) and points (48) and led the team with 12 power-play goals. His regular season totals of 1.35 points per game and 46 total points were good enough for 12th and eighth in the country, respectively.

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