📝 by Alex Thomas | AHL On The Beat
If you were to check out a Hartford Wolf Pack game at any point this fall, you would have noticed ample new faces in the lineup for the club compared to the team that finished the campaign last April.
You also would have noticed a 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward wreaking havoc on the forecheck and making a name for himself on a nightly basis.
That tower of a human? That would be Matt Rempe, a rookie forward donning the number 32 during his first professional season in Hartford.
A sixth-round pick of the New York Rangers during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Rempe has spent the first two months of his rookie campaign adjusting from life in the Western Hockey League to life in the professional ranks.
“It’s different,” Rempe said. “In juniors, you’re lining up against guys your own age or younger. Here, you’re lining up against grown men on a nightly basis.”
No matter who he’s lining up against, Rempe isn’t intimidated. The Calgary, Alta., native has quickly made a name for himself in the cities that house Atlantic Division teams in the American Hockey League. Rempe leads the Wolf Pack with four fighting majors this season, including two terrific tilts against Hershey’s Dylan McIlrath and Providence’s Nick Wolff.
“Every night I want to play with an edge and be hard to play against,” Rempe said. “I want to build a tough reputation.”
Don’t be mistaken, however. There is much more to Rempe than his size. He scored his first pro goal back on Nov. 16 and has quickly carved out a role in head coach Kris Knoblauch’s forward group.
“I am definitely feeling more comfortable,” Rempe said. “I’ve been getting acclimated to the league and to playing pro hockey. I am doing whatever I can every game to bring energy. I just want to get better every day and learn as much as I can.”
Rempe doesn’t just talk the talk. Take in a Wolf Pack practice at the XL Center and you’ll notice that Rempe is routinely one of the last players off the ice each day. The rookie takes all the time he can to work on his game, to walk the walk of getting better every day.
“I’ve always tried to be a hard-working kid,” Rempe said. “I think that stems from competing against my older twin sisters (Steph and Alley) growing up. Both of them played NCAA Division I hockey at Brown, so I was always trying to keep up with them. My mother is also the hardest working person I know and is a great role model to look up to.”
It’s not just hard work for the sake of hard work, however. Rempe knows that it’s all part of the development process that he hopes will one day lead him down the highway to Madison Square Garden, where former Wolf Pack players like Chris Kreider and Igor Shesterkin currently are.
“Coming into my first year of pro hockey at 20 years old, it is a fast league with tons of skilled players,” Rempe said. “I am very fortunate to have lots of great resources both here in Hartford and from the Rangers. My goal is to utilize these resources and do everything I can to get better every day.”
Rempe will continue putting in the work every day, looking to hone his skills and further develop as a player. He’s also goal-oriented, and already knows what he hopes to accomplish in the season’s final 50 games.
“The rest of the season, my goal is to continue to grow as a player and learn as much as I can,” Rempe proclaimed. “I want to get 1 percent better every day, and work as hard as I can. I want to keep earning respect from my teammates and other players in the league, and help our team win some games.”