If you ask any of hockey's all-time greats the answer will always be the same. It's never about the personal accolades. It's about playing the game the right way, supporting your teammates, and performing day in, day out to secure the victory.
The fancy award stuff -- for the player's at least -- remains something to celebrate once hitting the links becomes a full-time gig, long after the skates have been hung.
And just like those all-time greats, Nathan Matthews would be the first to brush off his own personal accolades with a towering modesty you just don't see everyday.
While sharing a passion for the game that many who know him say transcends common fandom (a Penguins fan who lives and breathes the igloo's air); Nathan is quite simply your average kid, who just happens to be applying his scientific know-how in an ambitious attempt to improve the game he loves.
Nathan always had that engineering spirit, and when coupled with his competitive drive, it was only a matter of time before he'd start making waves in his home state of Pennsylvania.
This past year, the young man entered the Pennsylvania Junior Science Academy fair. His project? An in-depth analysis of the COLT Gen.1 when tested under heavy impact conditions.
Nathan used a pendulum apparatus with weights attached to other stick shafts rotating down from a specific height to impact the COLT in the infamous 'slash-zone'.
He measured an observed the depth of damage in the other stick materials and the non-existence of damage to the COLT. He combined this with bending tests on composite and nano-coated sticks to show the superior performance of the COLT to failure.
And Nathan didn't just put on a good show; he ended up winning the competition.
He would go on to place first in the regional competition as well, win the Duquesne University Young Science Stars Excellence in Scientific Pursuit Award, and place second in both the state competition and at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy science fair. He's had a busy off-season, if you ask us.
While it goes without saying that the game has steadily evolved alongside a countless number of technological advancements -- with breakthroughs in material manufacturing and testing processes occurring almost on a daily basis -- Nathan Matthews' story remains a prime example of how innovation in hockey is just as important as playing the game itself.
Who knows what the future has in store and what impact Nathan will one day have on the game at large -- once he's hung up his own skates, of course.