TROY, NY – Every professional athlete has that one moment. Many times it’s called the “welcome to the pros moment,” but for 30-year-old AHL veterans, who make their NHL debut it’s a “welcome to the majors moment.”
Matt Anderson had that experience when arriving at the team’s hotel in Boston the night before he made his NHL debut. “When I first got to the hotel, Magic Johnson got out of the car behind me,” Anderson said. “So it was kind of like ‘wow, I’m in a little different city.’”
After the excitement of a Magic Johnson sighting, Anderson fell into a seamless transition in the NHL environment.
“It wasn’t anything too special and the guys made it really simple,” Anderson said. “The Devils, as an organization made, it an easy transition for me. We do a lot of the same things here that they do there, so kudos to them for making it easy.”
During his Jan. 29 debut against the Bruins at TD Garden, the West Islip, NY native logged 11 shifts for 6:57 of action.
“I was pretty excited for him, it’s been a long time coming for Matty,” said Albany captain Jay Leach, who attended the game while Albany was on All-Star break. “We actually headed into the game and got to see him afterwards. He was pretty excited to say the least. It was good to see a guy like that who has paid his dues for as long as he has to get that chance.”
New Jersey’s following game on Jan. 31 against the New York Islanders, Anderson registered his first career point, assisting Ryan Carter’s second-period tally.
He was returned to Albany the next day and joined the team for the Feb. 2 outing at Portland. Most recently and in his second game back, Anderson tied a season high by posting three points (1g-2a) at Connecticut Tuesday. He also registered a shootout goal, helping Albany to a 4-3 victory.
“Obviously coming back from New Jersey, it was a great experience,” Anderson said. “I regained a little bit of focus and picked up some little things during the limited time I was there. Some of the little things I picked up like the intensity of that game and trying to bring a little bit more into mine.”
Anderson could pine for the next call to NHL, but his goal is to continue to work hard at the AHL level.
“I have to have some prospective,” Anderson said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and seeing guys go up and down and bounce around. I’m very thankful for the opportunity that I have and I understand these situations don’t come around very often and when they do you have to take advantage of it. So when that time comes again, it comes. It’s not something I can really worry about or think about in bed at night. I have to continue to work hard and hopefully those opportunities will come more often than not.”
Now in his sixth professional season, Anderson has registered 118 points, including 71 goals and 117 assists, in 316 games. In three years with Albany, he has totaled 110 points with 41 goals and 69 assists in 173 outings.