March 25, 2023

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Every prospective college hockey player has to ask himself the same question.

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Realize that even if Matt Coronato has made a decision, even if he’s already made up his mind about whether he plans to turn pro after season two, the Calgary Flames’ first-rounder won’t talk about it.

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As he and his Harvard Crimson teammates gear up for a couple of championship quests, from their conference appearance this weekend to the NCAA Tournament, Coronato stressed he can’t even think about it.

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His immediate goal is to win a national title. Then we’ll find out if the 20-year-old sharpshooter is ready for the National Hockey League.

“It’s obviously a really fun time of the year for me right now, and a really important time of the year for us here at Harvard,” Coronato told Postmedia ahead of the ECAC hockey championship. So my focus right now at this time is on this weekend and doing everything I can to help my team win. And from now until the end of the season, that will be my focus until the end of the year.

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“Once our season is over, I will definitely have to think about it. But right now, at this moment, all my focus is on helping this team win.”


It is widely believed that the Flames are ready to offer an entry-level contract to Coronato. 13th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. General manager Brad Treliving more than hinted at that on the day the deal closed, telling reporters, “We were talking about Matt Coronato. We’ll let him worry about his playoffs at Harvard and then talk to him at the end of the year.”

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The Crimson posted a 23-6-2 record and is currently ranked sixth in the national polls. No matter what happens this weekend, starting with Friday’s conference semifinals against Cornell, they will be among the 16 teams invited to the NCAA Tournament. If they go through the regionals, the Cold Four is scheduled for April 6-8.

Coronato will certainly be the key to any title crusade. Although he takes great pride in his 200-foot play and recalls that “the defensive side of the puck is very important, especially at this time of year,” he is also considered an offensive player for the Crimson.

He scored 19 goals and 35 points in 31 matches in 2022/23. The Flames expected him to fill the net from the right flank, but he spent most of this season as a Harvard front row center due to injuries.

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“The most important thing that catches my eye is that when the moment becomes decisive, Matthew finds a way to take a step forward,” praised Flames director of player development Ray Edwards. “I don’t know how many winners he has, but for a while it seemed like he scored the winning goal every time they won. Just the way he creates an attack and that shot, he’s lethal. He can score from almost anywhere. His release is NHL-quality. He knows how to score, that’s all.

And then the ability to play in the center and do it without problems was quite impressive. I think we’ve all said out loud that we think he’s a winger, but it’s nice to have someone you can move around. You look at what’s happening with Dillon (Dube) – being able to play all three forward positions is good. They were able to do it with Dillon and I see it can be done with Matthew.”

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The number Edwards was looking for was five game-winning goals. He leads his team in this metric.

Matt Coronato pictured during the Calgary Flames Advanced Development Camp at the 7 Chiefs Sportsplex at Tsuut'ina Nation on July 12, 2022.
Matt Coronato pictured during the Calgary Flames Advanced Development Camp at the 7 Chiefs Sportsplex at Tsuut’ina Nation on July 12, 2022. Al Charest Photos /Postmedia

Coronato, who hails from Greenlon, New York, would certainly like to retire number six to secure the conference crown.

And then seventh for the NCAA championship.

“I saw him excel in the big games last year. I watched him do it all year,” Edwards said. “So I just expect him to do it again this weekend and next and hopefully Frozen Four.”

And then, eventually, in Flaming C.

There is no such fear around Saddledome that Coronato, who is still eligible for two more campaigns in the college ranks, will “pull Adam Fox” and refuse to sign at Cowtown. He recently told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis, “I still intend to sign with the Calgary Flames when I’m ready and I find the opportunity to play in the NHL attractive.”

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Harvard’s roster is loaded with 15 draft picks, so Coronato won’t be the only major league-documented guy to think about after the bell goes off this season.

Is he going to turn pro? He can’t go there yet.

“The best thing I can do for myself is to stay locked up and be as valuable and helpful to the team as possible,” Coronato repeated. “To win a championship, every guy in the dressing room has to be totally focused and totally involved, and I really believe this applies to our group as well. I think that’s why we’re so confident about the future.”

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