“I hate getting off the ice and feeling like I didn’t get better.”
Such is the way of talented National Team Development Program forward Matt Boldy. Boldy grew up about 30 miles to the southeast of Boston, and, nearly from the time he began playing hockey before he was 3-years-old through to being name the All American Prospects Game's MVP on Sept. 18, his motivation remains a thread running through his success.
Now somewhat famously known among fans of USA Hockey’s NTDP, Boldy’s dad, a football player at the University of Maine, always loved hockey, too, and his young sons, including Matt’s brother, Michael, were in the game early.
Even then, Matt was developing a compete level.
“We were always playing around, always competing,” Boldy says of he and Michael, who is four years older. “And I want to win at everything. I think it pushed me more just wanting to beat my brother. And I always wanted to compete whenever I could, even if it was in hockey. I hate losing in anything.”
Boldy played lacrosse, baseball and golf through the years, eventually focusing on hockey as it became clear that the Boston College commit had a very bright future. But that moment didn’t come as soon as one might think.
Despite starring as a youth hockey player, particularly when he wasn’t playing up an age group and was matched against his peers and putting up points, hockey was still very much a game for Boldy.
“When I played with my own age group, that’s where I exceled, having a good time, multiple goals per game,” he says. “I didn’t realize much [in the way of future opportunities]. I was just having fun. It took me a little longer to realize that I had something special.”
Boldy thinks there may be a lesson in there somewhere, too.
“Hockey was never anything I saw as a future when I was a 10-year-old kid,” he says. “That age, it’s just about having fun. I think that’s something my parents realized and something that really helped me. They didn’t pressure me into anything. It was always something I wanted to do.”
Before his family gets to see him playing back in Massachusetts at BC, where he’s wanted to play since youth hockey, he’ll have another season in Michigan at the NTDP, where the ultimate goal is to win the IIHF U18 World Championship.
Few teens in the country are on the ice and in training as often – and fewer still are playing against the elite talent – as Boldy on a very regular basis. The seasons are long. The days can be long. But wearing the U-S-A has a way of driving a player to take advantage of the remarkably rare opportunity.
“Once I was invited, I was just excited to go and see what I could do,” says Boldy, who scored 29 goals and added 47 assists in 76 games for the NTDP in 2017-18. “It’s not for everyone. You have to be willing to push yourself every day. You can’t really take any days off. It’s definitely challenging, but the end reward is worth it.”
There is motivation around every corner.
“Going to the rink every day, my dream is to play in the NHL,” Boldy says. “And if I don’t go to the rink every day and work hard somebody else might be.”
Daring to dream ahead and think about those lofty goals, Boldy ponders what his motivation might be at that point.
“I think it’s going to be the same,” he says. “I want to win. I want to be the best. That’s never going to leave me as a person. I think that’s just who I am and something that will always push me to become better and better.”