College player spends spring break with Wranglers

As spring break vacations go, Mat Robinson's was pretty memorable.

He got a chance to play, but not on some sunny beach.

The senior defenseman from Alaska-Anchorage competed in four games for the Wranglers on an amateur tryout agreement, logging a goal and an assist.

When he returns to school today, it will be with the knowledge that he has a future in professional hockey, if not in Las Vegas, then certainly somewhere.

"It was a great experience," Robinson said Tuesday before the Wranglers' 5-3 loss to the Alaska Aces at the Orleans Arena. "It was my first time in Las Vegas, and I had a great time. The arena is great. The fans are into it. The guys on the team treated me super.

"To have some early success really helped my confidence. It got all the jitters out of my system. I felt very comfortable."

Robinson was on the ice when a melee broke out 2:45 into the second period. The Wranglers' Tim Spencer and Peter and Chris Ferraro received game misconducts as referee Shane Warschaw handed out 76 minutes in penalties between the teams. Chris Ferraro suffered a broken left leg in a fight. He is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks, ending his season.

Robinson is a few weeks from earning his degree in natural sciences. If the Wranglers are still playing when final exams conclude May 1, perhaps he will return. Wranglers coach Glen Gulutzan said he would love to have the 5-foot-10-inch, 185-pound defenseman back on the ice.

"He's a guy who can definitely play at this (ECHL) level and possibly at the American League level," Gulutzan said of Robinson, who was the captain of his college team this season and had three goals and 15 points for the Seawolves. "He's a great skater, and with the game having changed over the years, skating is a bigger factor.

"To come to a new team like he did right out of college and play well right off the bat is a credit to him."

Robinson's slight stature is offset by his hockey intelligence. He is rarely caught out of position and uses his stick wisely to poke-check the puck away from opponents.

He said his hockey acumen comes from his father, Trevor, who played at the Junior A level.

Robinson would love to one day play for the Calgary Flames, the team he grew up rooting for. Being with the Wranglers, the Flames' ECHL affiliate, could be a step in that direction.

"There's nothing like playing for your home team's organization," Robinson said.

And there's nothing like visiting Las Vegas during spring break.

"I finally got to see the city a little on Monday," Robinson said. "I was on the Strip and went to the Bellagio. That was like the nicest hotel I've ever been in."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ or 702-387-2913.


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