When Matt Donovan made his National Hockey League debut with the New York Islanders last month, you betcha Minnesota State’s Chase Grant noticed.
Perhaps Grant wasn’t quite that Midwestern about it.
Donovan wasn’t just a player Grant once went up against a few times he was a freshman for the Mavericks and Donovan was a standout defenseman at Denver. No, he had something else that Grant knew only he and scant few others could truly appreciate.
His Oklahoma roots.
Donovan is the first Oklahoma native to play in the NHL. College hockey currently has just two players from the Sooner State, according to a chart compiled by the College Hockey News website: Grant and his MSU teammate Taylor Herndon.
“Me and Taylor are really proud of that,” Grant said.
While there has been minor-league hockey in Grant’s hometown of Oklahoma City for decades, it’s still the heart of college football country.
“I always had to go somewhere to get to the next level,” Grant said. “I wanted to play triple-A hockey and went to Texas. Then I wanted to play Junior A, and was lucky enough to play in the (United States Hockey League) in Fargo (N.D.).”
Some of his friends didn’t necessarily understand where he was going or why.
“If I was playing Division I football, they’d think it was cool; they’d know all about it,” said Grant, who claims to be a big University of Oklahoma football fan. “But some of them think hockey’s just a cool, fun hobby. They don’t see it’s competitive as it is. It’s definitely eye-opening for them.”
Even if they don't fully understand the sport of hockey, those folks should appreciate the way Grant plays the game.