Matt DeBlouw finished his freshman year with 10 goals, including three in the final three games. He also added 11 assists to give him 21 points in 42 games.
Then a drought began.
Through the first eleven games of his sophomore season, DeBlouw had no goals and just two assists.
“The halfway point, it was really starting to bug me,” DeBlouw said. “After that I was out of the lineup for a stretch and coach just sat me down and said don’t worry about it, things will come and I didn’t worry about it the rest of the year.”
He added two assists in the last 12 games of the campaign to give him just four points on the year.
“It’s frustrating at times,” head coach Tom Anastos said about DeBlouw’s struggle last season. “I think players have to learn how to mature and grow up…. For him, it would be easy to go home and be complacent. You have to recognize that you’re going to have to step up and it’s going to be harder, and I don’t think he did that.”
The drought, however, did not bother DeBlouw over the summer.
“I just joked around with it,” DeBlouw said. “I, kind of, accepted the fact that I got no goals, and I was ok with it. I just reassured myself that this year is way different than last year. Hopefully the goals start just pouring in because I saved them from all last year.”
Finally, on October 18, DeBlouw scored the game-winning goal, ending a drought that lasted 579 days.
The goal injected a big boost of confidence for him and he has not looked back since. DeBlouw is now fourth on the team with seven goals, including three in the last four games, two of which were at Soldier Field and Joe Louis Arena, and sixth on the team with 11 points.
DeBlouw talked about where his confidence is at this point in the season.
“It’s definitely high,” he said. “But I’m not trying to dwell on it because that’s when you start thinking too much, pressing too much, and I don’t need to do that.”
Anastos feels there’s room for DeBlouw to continue improving.
“One of Matt’s characteristics that he needs to improve in his play, and he knows it, he’s the one who brings it up to me, is he has a tendency of sometimes getting satisfied easily,” Anastos said. “We have to push him, he’s got to push harder, he’s got to strive for more and that doesn’t come easy to him. That’s part of my job to push him and not allow him to feel too comfortable.”
The success DeBlouw has had in spurts this season has made playing the game much more enjoyable for the junior from Chesterfield, MI.
“This year is a lot more fun scoring every so often compared to last year,” DeBlouw said. “Showing up to the rink knowing guys count on me during games, I think it’s reassuring to myself that I’m a good player.”
Friday night, DeBlouw played a significant role again, scoring a big third period goal in the Spartans’ 3-0 win against Penn State. He added an assist Saturday night to help the Spartans get the sweep.
Anastos thought Friday night’s game was one of the best of his career and after the game talked about DeBlouw’s potential to continue to grow.
“He’s scratching the surface,” Anastos said. “He needs more jam. He needs success to fuel his desire for more success. After the game I told him I thought he had, maybe, the best game that I’ve seen him play here. I thought he impacted the game significantly and I think he can impact it even more.”
Brian Bobal is the co-host of Behind the Mask for Impact Sports
Photo: Scott Wasserman/Impact Sports