"Can't really describe it": Excited prospect Coronato finally joins Flames

Mar 28 2023, 8:07 pm

Suffice it to say, Matt Coronato is excited to be a member of the Calgary Flames.

Just ask him.

He’ll be the first to admit it’s the adjective that comes to mind, over and over, when describing his range — or lack thereof — of emotion after he signed his first-ever NHL contract and hit the ice for the first time as a pro hockey player.

“I can’t really describe it,” an overwhelmed Coronato said in his first media address since opting to leave Harvard to join the Flames down the stretch. “I’ve been saying ‘exciting’ a lot. It’s the word that keeps coming to mind. Everything’s really exciting. I’m just grateful to be here right now. It’s an unbelievable opportunity. Just really happy.”

Coronato, the No. 13 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, inked his entry-level pact on Sunday, scrapping any potential plan to return to the NCAA level for his junior season next fall.

Instead, his courses will move online as his focus shifts to learning the ins and outs of the pro circuit.

“It’s been a little crazy,” the 20-year-old admitted. “It’s been really exciting. Just hard to explain the feeling [of] being here. Really just grateful for the opportunity to come in and be with these guys and learn and do all that.

“I think it all started to sink in slowly. I think when I walked in here today it really started to sink in… meet the guys and talk to everyone. It’s been really cool.”

First impressions are everything, after all.

“He seems like a great kid,” veteran defenceman MacKenzie Weegar said. “Obviously pretty quiet. I’m sure he’s kind of just looking around the room and trying to meet everybody and taking it all in. But looks like a good player. Skates well. He can shoot the puck. I got to watch him out there a little bit.

“It’s always funny watching young players get called up because they’re trying not to make mistakes but they’re making little mistakes that you kind of see and you just laugh. He seems like a great guy and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do for us here.”

Coronato leaves Harvard after two seasons, amassing 72 points (38 goals, 34 assists) in 68 games for the Crimson and claiming an ECAC title along the way.

The education continues in Calgary.

“I’m trying to learn as much as I can from the staff, but also from all the guys,” said Coronato, whose stall is tucked into the corner of the Flames room, a cement wall to his right and 24-year-old Dillon Dube to his left. “This team has a lot of players with a lot of experience. I’m lucky to be able to talk to them and learn from them.

“There’s a lot of really, really good players here. There’s a lot of guys that stand out. It’s really awesome meeting the guys.”

Future teammates, no doubt.

He’ll likely earn the opportunity for some first-hand in-game action, though there doesn’t appear to be any set timetable in that regard with Calgary still chasing down a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Until then, it’s about letting the experience sink in.

“I think it’s starting to. It’s definitely starting to. Meeting the guys was a big thing, for sure,” said Coronato, who admitted he was spotted by a fan when landing at YYC late Monday night.

“I think right now for me, it’s just coming in and trying to work my hardest, helping out whenever I can, support all the guys, and see where it goes from there.”

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