Standing at 5-foot-7, Ohio State redshirt junior defenseman Matt Joyaux is far from a typical blueliner. His path to becoming a Buckeye is equally as unorthodox.
Between junior and college hockey, Joyaux has been associated with five different teams over the last five years. After redshirting for the 2015-16 season, he saw meaningful game action for the first time in nearly a year and half during the Buckeyes’ season-opening IceBreakers Tournament, held Oct. 7-8.
Making an immediate offensive impact with a goal against the Denver Pioneers and an assist against Air Force, Joyaux seems to have finally found a home.
“It feels good to get the first goal out of the way early,” Joyaux said. “It’s good to get in there and contribute as much as I can, after being away from the game and not being able to help out the guys in during game situations. I really enjoyed it, and I hope to contribute more along the way.”
OSU coach Steve Rohlik was impressed from what he saw in Joyaux’s first games as a Buckeye.
“I thought he handled himself really well for being off as long as he was. He added a spark to our offense, played solid defense and played lots of minutes,” Rohlik said. “I think he’s got a lot of room to grow, which is nice for a coach, but for him being off as long as he was, I thought he played pretty well.”
Joyaux’s college hockey career began with the Miami RedHawks – an Ohio rival of the Buckeyes – in the 2013-14 season. After appearing in only four games before Christmas of his sophomore season, he returned to juniors where he spent time with the Omaha Lancers.
The Bloomingdale, Illinois, native said he tries to emulate the playing style of Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon – a fellow speedy and skilled undersized blueliner – and that playing with the Lancers helped hone in his game.
“I think it helped me build confidence with the puck, definitely my offensive ability,” Joyaux said. “I was able to build some skill there. I elevated my game, I played a lot of minutes, played every situation – powerplay, penalty kill – it was just great for my game.”
At the end of the Lancers 2014-15 campaign, Joyaux briefly declared to play for Colorado College. Only a month later, he decommitted and declared with OSU.
“I came (to OSU) on my official visit and loved it,” he said. “I loved everything about it, the campus, the tradition, the people, the coaching staff, everything was great.”
Now his career is about to come full circle as the Buckeyes face-off against Miami in their next matchup on Oct. 15.
Rohlik said he does not believe it will affect Joyaux’s mindset.
“Yeah he happened to play there at that program, but right now he’s here and I think he just wants to go out and play well and be part of our team and be the best he can,” Rohlik said. “This certainly isn’t (Matt) Joyaux against Miami, it’s Ohio State against Miami, and I think that’s his attitude.”
Joyaux acknowledged that he tries not to prepare differently for any game, but this one has an added element.
“Every game I kind of look at the same,” Joyaux said. “But getting in that building and being on the other side of it is going to be different. So I’m excited and I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to bring a lot of fire to the table.”