82°F
weather icon Clear

At 15, Las Vegas-area hockey standout’s options abound

Matthew Gross took all the necessary steps to ensure that multiple doors would be open for the next phase of his blossoming hockey career.

The difficult part is choosing which one is right for him.

“I’m still deciding where I want to go,” said the 15-year-old from Las Vegas’ east side.

Gross is one of the nation’s top hockey players in his age group and faces an unusual dilemma compared with many of his peers in other sports.

In May, he was drafted by the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League, which serves as the primary recruiting pipeline for the majority of Division I college hockey programs.

Gross’ rights also are owned by Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League, providing him another high-profile option. But that path through the Canadian major-junior system would make Gross ineligible to participate in the NCAA.

That’s why Gross is taking his time before he commits.

“I’m considering both,” he said. “I’m going to keep my options open for the NCAA, and the WHL is a really good option, too, with what they have to offer. They’re both really good. I’ll have to come down to a decision eventually.”

Gross is the latest in a growing number of elite hockey players with ties to the Las Vegas Valley, including Jason Zucker of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and Golden Knights minor-leaguer Gage Quinney.

Gross started ice skating at age 3 after watching the defunct Las Vegas Wrangers of the ECHL and joined the Las Vegas Ice Cats — later the Junior Wranglers — club program when he was 5.

By the time Gross was a seventh-grader at Robison Middle School, he had broken the Plexiglas at Sobe Ice Arena with a slap shot and outgrew the local competition.

With dreams of a college scholarship serving as motivation, he stayed part time with a billet family in Phoenix as a 12-year-old and played for the Arizona Bobcats, the same program that helped produce Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews. Billet families provide housing to men pursuing hockey dreams away from home.

Gross has lived full time with a billet family since 2016, and his parents, John and Susan, visit most weekends. Matthew takes classes online through Connections Academy and recently completed his sophomore year of high school.

“I was one of those moms that said, ‘No way. My kid’s never going to move away until he’s 18,’ but you make sacrifices,” said Susan Gross, a teacher at Jerome Mack Middle School. “You could see his passion for it. … We kept bumping him up by years so he would play at an older division. But at a certain point, it became a need for him to sort of push himself.”

Gross participated in the 2017 CCM Invitational Hockey Tournament in Beijing , and this season he helped the Phoenix Junior Coyotes reach the quarterfinals of the USA Hockey Youth Tier I National Championship.

The 5-foot, 11-inch, 175-pound forward produced 14 goals and 22 points in 24 regular-season games for the Junior Coyotes in the under-15 Tier I Elite Hockey League.

Gross starred at the USA Hockey Pacific District Regionals in May at City National Arena and said he will play next season with the Junior Coyotes before deciding his next move.

This summer, Gross will attend training camps for both Prince Albert and Tri-City, which is owned by area resident Kirk Brooks and holds its camp in mid-June at Las Vegas Ice Center.

In addition to the USHL and WHL options, he could elect to play in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League to maintain his college eligibility.

Gross earned an invitation to the USA Hockey National Player Development Camp from July 7-13 at Amherst, New York, and is set to participate in Arizona State’s summer camp.

He said the Sun Devils, along with Wisconsin, are his top college choices at the moment.

“The long-term vision is probably like any other kid, the NHL. That would be the dream goal,” Gross said. “Playing for the Knights would be the biggest dream ever. That’d be the coolest thing ever. Insane. But if I could get a college scholarship, that’s what I’m looking for first.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Fire damages an office complex in central Las Vegas - VIDEO
A fire causes heavy damage to an office complex at 3900 Paradise Rd. in Las Vegas on June 17, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Crash closes Las Vegas Blvd. near Fremont Street
A vehicle fleeing police crashed in the area of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard in downtown Las Vegas on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Courtesy Andy Herrera)
Clark County's third poet laureate
Heather Lang-Cassera, who will be Clark County's third poet laureate on June 1, is interviewed at the Writer's Block bookstore in Las Vegas, Friday, May 24, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
One dead, two critical in Henderson shooting
One person is dead and two juveniles are in critical condition after a Friday morning shooting in Henderson, police said. During a briefing at the scene on Friday, Lt. Kirk Moore said the preliminary investigation has revealed that this incident is likely narcotics-related.
A man whose wives were found dead 8 years apart under similar circumstances is denied bail - VIDEO
Alan Sylwester, the man suspected of killing his wife, was denied bail again Wednesday morning during his preliminary hearing in Henderson.
Chief deputy district attorney: “Justice was done” in child pornography case - VIDEO
Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney James Sweetin speaks with the media after the sentencing of Christopher Sena, the man who was found guilty in February of multiple counts of sexual assault with a minor, incest, use of a minor in the production of pornography, lewdness with a child younger than 14 and child abuse. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Spring Mountain horses don't mind the snow
Snowfall made a return to the Spring Mountains overnight, May 19, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Newly completed Project Neon HOV flyover ramp in the Spaghetti Bowl
The newly completed Project Neon HOV flyover ramp in the Spaghetti Bowl will open to traffic Monday morning, May 20, 2019, along with new HOV lanes on Interstate 15 and new HOV lane regulations on the HOV lanes on I-15 and U.S. Highway 95. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, Clark County fire departments face off in burger eating challenge
Las Vegas City Fire Department battled Clark County Fire Department in a burger eating contest Thursday at a local Farmer Boys restaurant to raise money for the Southern Nevada Burn Foundation. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Courtyard Homeless Resource Center employees talk about their termination
Employees from the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center talk about their termination. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Highlights from the 2019 Helldorado Parade
The 2019 Helldorado Parade, which dates back 85 years, took place Saturday morning in downtown Las Vegas as part of the Las Vegas Days, formerly known as Helldorado Days, annual cowboy-themed event with a nod to the Wild West.
Clouds move across Las Vegas Valley (Michael Quine)
After record rainfall of nearly a half-inch soaked the Las Vegas Valley on Thursday evening, clouds cover the valley Friday morning with forecast for some additional rain.
Las Vegas rain tops annual average – in May
Las Vegas has now received more rainfall so far this year than the city sees in an entire average year. We’ve had 4.2 inches of rain through May 10th. The average amount for the whole year is 4.19 inches. (Harrison Keely/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Weather | Steady Rain Falls in Northwest Valley
A steady rain falls near U.S. 95 North and Ann Road in northwest Las Vegas on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Navigate Project Neon road features
How to navigate a trio of newly opened Project Neon road features. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain at Aviators ballpark
Rain at the Las Vegas Aviators Ballpark on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 (Jason Lilly)
Tropicana/I-15 Interchange
The planned $200 million project is slated to begin in 2022 and finish in 2024. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas kids court and Harry Potter
Fourth graders from Hickey Elementary School made their case against Harry Potter at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on Friday. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Free genetic testing through the Healthy Nevada Project
Clark County residents will be able to receive free genetic testing through the Healthy Nevada Project this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Treasure Hunting in Las Vegas
Sarah Collins considers herself a modern-day treasure hunter. As one of the co-owners of Main Street Peddlers Antique Mall, located in downtown Las Vegas, Collins is constantly looking for antique goods to sell in the store. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal
May 2nd is James Holzhauer Day
Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick presents “Jeopardy!” champ James Holzhauer with a proclamation and key to the Las Vegas Strip.
Linda Smith talks about her recently published book "Unwanted"
Linda Smith talks about her recently published book "Unwanted" in her home in Henderson, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Asparagus harvesting at Gilcrease Orchard
Sixty acres of agricultural land in the the Las Vegas Valley offer a diverse choice of fruits and vegetables that consumers can select and pick themselves. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Thedrick Andres becomes Henderson Police Department acting chief
Henderson Police Department Acting Chief Thedrick Andres speaks about his goals in his new position at the Henderson Police headquarters, Monday, April 29, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain near the Spaghetti Bowl in central Las Vegas
Rain and some hail fell in the Spaghetti Bowl in central Las Vegas on Monday, April 29, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hail, rain in Las Vegas Valley
Rain and hail in Southern Highlands southwest Las Vegas, Monday, April 29, 2019. (Caitie Lilly/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Formerly homeless veteran purchases her first home
Ana Martinez, a veteran who was homeless two years ago, walks into her Las Vegas home for the first time as a homeowner mindful of those who didn't make it back. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Library director talks about library as community center
Ron Heezen discusses his hopes for the new East Las Vegas Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Property Brothers visit Michael’s in Las Vegas Valley
Twin brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott are the hosts of Property Brothers, the hit HGTV show where they help couples find fixer-uppers and transform them into dream homes. In 2018, the brothers collaborated with Michael's on their first custom framing program. Today they're releasing new frames into that collection that range from natural to bright looking. Jonathan and Drew discuss their brand and why frames was something they wanted to pursue. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 traffic jam
A semitrailer stopped in the middle of Interstate 15 near Charleston Boulevard has slowed traffic in central Las Vegas Wednesday morning, April 17, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
UNLV first in two categories at national marketing competition

UNLV’s American Marketing Association won first place — and $3,000 — in the collegiate case competition in New Orleans during the AMA International Collegiate Conference. The UNLV AMA also won first place — and $550 — in the SABRE Business Simulation challenge, also in New Orleans on April 11-14. The SABRE team has five undergraduate students.