Matt Ladd is a highly-touted goalie who is committed to Colorado College. After a successful youth career in his hometown of Buffalo and a year starting at the elite Avon Old Farms prep school in Connecticut, he played his first season of junior hockey in 2016–17. Although he spent most of the year with the South Shore Kings of the USPHL, Ladd also got some games in with the Minnesota Magicians and Aberdeen Wings of the NAHL, and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Chicago Steel of the USHL. With the Steel, Ladd started in Game 1 of the Clark Cup Championship on short notice, and the team ended up winning the series. He is slated to become a Tiger either in 2018–19 or 2019–20. Mile High Hockey talked to Ladd about his transition to the junior level, his plans for this season, and what he’s learned about hockey in Colorado from his visits to CC.
MHH: Let’s start off with an easy one. What have you been doing this summer?
ML: I’ve been working with my trainer to get stronger and quicker as well as my goalie coach, just tweaking a few things in my game. I’m also enjoying the summer with friends and family, fishing and golfing.
MHH: What are your plans for this year? Are you going to CC or playing in the USHL, or somewhere else?
ML: I have to do one to two more years of juniors before I go to CC. I have Corpus Christi [IceRays, NAHL] main camp this weekend. The main goal is to crack the roster and play there this upcoming season.
MHH: You spent most of the past season with the South Shore Kings of the USPHL, but you also made a handful of appearances in the USHL and NAHL. Describe a little bit your path from last year and transition from the prep school ranks to juniors.
ML: My time at Avon was a time I’ll never forget. It was a great experience going to prep school. My transition to juniors was a lot different than I expected, being bounced around like that. I just had to use it as a learning experience and to keep working hard and moving forward. Playing for South Shore was great, I got to get in a good amount of games. Then at the end of the year, being called up to Chicago for the Clark Cup Playoffs is something I’ll never forget.
MHH: Yeah, I was going to ask about that last part. You got to play in Game 1 of the Clark Cup Championship for the Chicago Steel after some rumored eligibility concerns for their usual starter, Ales Stezka, which were quickly resolved afterwards. What was going through your mind when you were told you’d be getting the start and what was being able to win the Clark Cup like?
ML: I was told I had a chance to play by Coach [Dan] Muse before the team meal. He pulled me aside and said, “Don’t be nervous, you’re more than ready for this, but most importantly have fun with it and enjoy it.” We got to the rink and we were doing our off-ice warmup and the coaches pulled us all in the locker room and that is where I was told I’d be starting. I was definitely a little nervous but once I settled in I was fine and it was a great game to be a part of.
MHH: You’re from Buffalo originally, but obviously hockey has taken you to a number of different places around the country. You were once committed to play at Niagara. What made you decide that Colorado College was the right school for you?
ML: I visited the school last June and was sold right away. The facilities are outstanding and the coaching staff really made me feel at home. Colorado Springs is also a beautiful area, and the NCHC is one of the best conferences in college hockey.
MHH: What have you noticed about the hockey culture in Colorado Springs and at the school?
ML: Hockey is definitely growing in the Colorado area with the number of youth programs. At the school, hockey is the biggest sport, the fans and people in the area seem very dedicated. CC has one of the best attendance records in NCAA hockey.
MHH: CC has a long and storied history: a couple national titles, a couple Hobey Baker winners, numerous NHL alumni, but has fallen on some rough times in the past few years. When you do end up enrolling, what do you think you can contribute to the program?
ML: The program is on the rise. The school is getting some good commits from kids across various leagues. When I go in, I’m looking to bring my work ethic and positive attitude to the team and just have a good influence on my teammates.
MHH: Last question. What do you think the strengths of your game are, and what do you need to work on in the next year or two to fully prepare yourself for the next level.
ML: My strengths are my size, I’m a big goalie and utilizing my size is a big part of my game. Another strength is my skating, I think skating in today’s game is a huge part of goaltending. Some things I’d like to work on are just getting my legs stronger and being able to read plays. I believe if you can read the play before it happens, you have a better chance of stopping the puck.