Former Falcon Eddie Matsushima adjusting to professional hockey
March 13, 2019
Sunny skies, white sandy beaches, and light blue water. That’s the view from Eddie Matsushima’s beachfront condo in Pensacola, Fla.
Since the conclusion of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls men’s hockey teams’ season, Matsushima has been playing for the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL).
“For me it was kind of a whirlwind, I had a couple talks with some teams here and there briefly,” Matsushima said. “We got back after Stevens Point and I woke up the next morning and my phone had a few missed calls, a few missed texts, and teams were trying to get me to come down immediately.”
Matsushima, 25, hopped on a flight and headed down to join his new team to start his professional career. “I left on Monday morning and it was negative seven degrees and I pulled into Pensacola at about 10:30 a.m. it was 70 degrees.”
Falcon teammate Joe Drapluk will join Matsushima with the Ice Flyers for the remainder of the 2018-2019 season. Pensacola Head Coach Rod Aldoff coached Joe and his twin brother Brian with the Minnesota Wilderness of the Superior International Junior Hockey League during the 2012-2013 season.
“Hockey’s a small world and everybody kind of knows everybody,” Matsushima said. “I’d like to win a championship with the Ice Flyers, but ultimately the goal is to keep moving up.”
Matsushima, a native of Verona, Wis., names the East Coast Hockey League and the American Hockey League as potential places he would like to play in the future.
Aldoff believes Matsushima, with his maturity and work ethic, is adjusting well to his current league, saying, “He’s got good speed and has a two-hundred-foot game where he has great defense.”
Aldoff continues, saying, “I’ve had a lot of former players play at River Falls so I know the coaching staff there well, obviously he had a good year and he was just somebody we wanted to bring in and give an opportunity to. When it’s time for playoff time we will be ready to win a championship.”
Through five games with the Ice Flyers, Matsushima has two goals and four assists. Pensacola sits at 21-21-5 and is firmly in eight place in the SPHL, with a 12 point lead over ninth place Quad City.
Reflecting back on his career with the Falcons, the feeling is bitter sweet for the two-time captain Matsushima. “As difficult as it was, our season ended the way it did, but the biggest message I passed along to those guys was that seasons end but families never die. We were more than just a team, we are a brotherhood of guys that became a family.”
Matsushima finishes his four years with the Falcons playing in 108 games, scoring 38 goals, and adding 46 assists for a total of 84 points. Matsushima was also a three-time WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll recipient and was selected to the All-WIAC First-Team twice.