Building the Herd – Matt Selby

#4 Matt Selby

Position: Defence

Born: Birmingham, England

Announced as signed: Bison website, 21st May

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

Coach Doug Sheppard reached into his weekly signing bag and pulled out another returning gem by announcing that Matt Selby had signed his first full season contract with the Bison for 2014/15.

Selby, 18 played junior hockey in Solihull and Telford before joining the Coventry Blaze system in 2009 at under 16 level where he’s been pretty much part of the furniture ever since. He made his EIHL debut and ENL debut in 2011/12 and tallying all Blaze appearances from u16-EIHL together, Selby has played 200 games as a member of the Blaze family for a combined 106 points.

Selby has been used in a variety of roles over his time. In juniors and ENL/NIHL, he was regularly used as a defenceman where he added size and strength to the blueline as well as the occasional point. EIHL Blaze coach Paul Thompson used Matt in a much different role, seeing Selby as a potential power forward and checking line player.

When Selby first signed for the Bison in January 2013 as part of a two way deal with the Blaze, he was used as a winger and scored on his debut in Telford on the Wednesday night before playing for Coventry on the Thursday in Cardiff and fighting inside the first few minutes. As time when on, injuries saw Selby settle back onto the blueline for the Bison as the Herd secured second but Selby missed the playoffs due to his selection for the GB under 18 side. When Selby returned to Basingstoke at the end of January 2014, he instantly slotted onto the defence and was part of a re-energised defensive corps that helped the Bison secure the double, though Selby missed the second leg of the cup final due to suspension. Selby has made 26 appearances for the Bison, scoring 3 points and tallying 53 penalty minutes.

As well as representing GB at under 18 level, Matt has made 9 appearances at under 20 level and was the alternate captain for GB in Dumfries at the most recent world championships.

With the loss of Zach Sullivan to Braehead, the Bison needed to find a good solid presence on the blueline and securing a full season out of Selby is a very good way to do that. Sullivan and Selby don’t initially look like similar players but the core of what both do is; positionally responsible play with low errors and minimal fuss. Sullivan is arguably the better with his positioning and Selby is built like a tank and smashes people more but the basic building blocks of how they both play the game are the same.

This is a good move for Selby. Despite the ability to play as a forward (and that ability to transition to any role is a very useful skill) he is a much more natural defenceman than he is a forward. I understand why Coventry have tried it but hopefully this experiment will now end and Selby’s development can focus on making him the best defenceman he can be.

A full season of playing on defence where he’s going to be getting top four ice time as well as special teams will hopefully round out Matt’s game more. We all forget that he’s just about to turn 19 and there’s still a ton of stuff for him to learn but he has that natural talent he has gets him to a point where he’s now learning the intricacies and the finer points more than having to learn the basics. He has taken to the EPL very well and there’s no reason why that won’t continue.

A really big change is the attitude towards how he is being used. No longer the impact addition to get the Bison over the line (it was rumoured that Selby was joining the Bison again for the run in as far back as August 2013), Matt is now going to be a regular, go to guy and that level of measured intensity he brings now needs to be bought for an entire season. It will also be his first full season where he will really be with just one team. The advantage of a ton of ice time at different levels is obviously no bad thing for a young player but those days are now definitely done. I think a Matt Selby fully focussed on one role with one team is a dangerous prospect for any team to face.

I won’t lie; I also think the addition of a player prepared to stand up for his team mates is a good thing. Selby is a physical player and has shown that he is more than prepared to drop the gloves if necessary. Doing it at the right time is the caveat to all this but someone prepared to jump in when needed is an added bonus.

With all that in mind, I don’t think anyone is going to argue with a full season of the one they call “The Manchild”. He has a golden opportunity for an 18 year old to really make a statement as to how good he can be.

Welcome back, Matt. Altogether everyone; Selby is a Bison, Selby is a Bison, la la la la, la la la la.


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