LaSalle Vipers defenceman Connor Matton makes a pass during a 2015 playoff game at the Vollmer Centre. (Photo by Kelsey Vermeesch/LaSalleVipers.com)
The LaSalle Vipers have committed to 16-year-old defenceman Connor Matton, head coach and general manager Bill Bowler announced Thursday.
Matton played four regular season games for the Vipers in 2014-15, and added 13 more post-season games including 11 in the Sutherland Cup playoffs.
"The fact that Connor could step in and play in that type of environment, in those types of games against the best team in the province and not miss a beat is a credit to him," Bowler says. "He worked extremely hard with us in practice, and Connor is going to get every opportunity to perform."
The right-handed blue liner spent the past season playing for the Windsor Jr. Spitfires AAA team under head coach Kyle Makaric.
"Kyle has done an excellent job with that program," Bowler says. "We're ecstatic that we can keep drawing from this midget program because guys keep graduating from our program, and there's no better place (to find new players) than locally."
The Windsor AAA program has sent many players to LaSalle in recent years, including 2014-15 Rookie of the Year co-winners Manny Silverio and Brett Primeau.
Matton posted seven goals and 21 points in his 26 games with the Jr. Spitfires this season, along with 50 penalty minutes.
"The compete level is higher (in Jr. B) and players are stronger, but I gained a lot of experience in the playoffs with the Vipers," Matton says. "I think I have a lot of offensive ability, but I still focus on my defensive responsibilities."
Bowler agrees with his newest addition's assessment of his play.
"He has an offensive upside that is going to be beneficial immediately, and as he matures physically he is going to be an excellent defender at the B level."
The Tecumseh native earned an invitation as a free agent to the recently held Windsor Spitfires mini-camp after going undrafted a year ago.
"Connor has opened up a lot of eyes," Bowler says. "That's the key, keep going in the right direction. He has a ton of upside and he has a work ethic that fits nicely with our group. Being around him for the last couple months, we know we've got a good young player and a better person."