Matt Taormina is enjoying every minute living his dream as a professional hockey player. After getting married last year and then signing a two year contract as a defenseman for the Rocket de Laval, he’s flying high.

The Early days
At the tender age of three, Taormina laced up his first pair of skates and hit the ice. Soon after, his father introduced him to hockey and he immediately fell in love. “I remember watching my idols Nicklas Lidström and Vladimir Konstantinov from the Detroit Red Wings,” he recalls. “I wondered if I could ever be like them.”

In high school, he landed a spot playing for the Texarkana Bandits in the North American Hockey League, one of the top junior hockey leagues in the United States. Upon graduation, he wasn't drafted. “I decided to go to college and study finance. But it was never my true passion,” he says. “Hockey was always at the back of my mind.” The 5-foot-10, 185 pounder played for Providence College in the Hockey East league throughout his studies. Although he experimented with every position in his youth, he had settled on being a defenseman.

The Big Leagues
Taormina’s big break came when he signed with the Binghamton Senators for the American Hockey League. Soon after, he moved on to the Lowell Devils. At that point, his dream of playing in the National Hockey League seemed within reach.

In 2010, he finally got that chance. He signed a one year contract with the New Jersey Devils and played his first NHL game. “It was an amazing, life-changing experience,” he says. “I’ll never forget the emotions that went along with it.” The players were bigger, faster and stronger…but Taormina was up for the challenge. He also played for Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL.

He spent the next several years bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. In 2017, he signed a two year contract with the Rocket de Laval. The Rocket de Laval is a professional hockey team that plays in the AHL as an affiliate of the NHL's Montreal Canadians. The team is based in Laval and plays their home games at Place Bell.

Hockey Life
Playing professional hockey has its glamorous side, but it also involves grueling schedules and physical exertion. And like all hockey players, Taormina finds the uncertainty and frequent trades a challenging part of the job. “It’s tough,” he says. “But the unknown is something you have to deal with as a professional hockey player. You can be living in one city for a while, and then it completely changes. You have to learn to deal with it and roll with the punches.”

As an American born in Michigan, he now finds himself playing for a Canadian team. But Taormina couldn’t be happier. “At the end of the day, I just want to play hockey,” he says.

Looking Ahead
Taormina has been making quite the name for himself. In 2017, he was awarded the Eddie Shore award for best defenseman. “I’ll always cherish that,” he says. “It’s something precious that can never be taken away.”

At the same time, he realizes his hockey career will eventually draw to a close. He’s keeping his options open in regards to his next move after retirement. Ideally, he would like to work in a hockey related field.

Taormina is also aware he’s a mentor for the younger generations. “My advice to aspiring hockey players is to keep dreaming, keep trying, and just go for it,” he says. “And most importantly, don’t let yourself get in your way.”