The Avalon East Senior Hockey League mourns the loss of legendary NL senior hockey goaltender & Corner Brook Royals legend Dave Matte
An instrumental part in the Royal’s 1986 Allan Cup winning season, Matte is without a doubt an icon within the local hockey community. As part of the 1983 Herder finalist Grand-Falls Windsor Cataracts, Matte took the senior world by surprise, putting on a show night in and night out to not only lift the Cataracts over the Caps in that year’s semi-finals, but also to help the paper town club push the Stephenville Jets to the brink in the finals. This performance, which included a 40-save stunner in game 1 of the finals, caught the eye of the Corner Brook Royals, who would bring Matte on as part of their roster in 1985.
It was with the Royals where Matte’s legacy would be cemented, as he not only helped the club overcome his former team in the opening round of playoffs, but take the top prize as well with a swift victory over the Stephenville Jets. With Matte’s first Herder under his belt, and a hunger for more, the Royals set their sights on the most prestigious senior hockey trophy Canada has to offer; the Allan Cup.
The Royals would take down the Hamilton-Dundas Hawks in the opening round, leaving them to face the Thunder Bay Twins in the G.P Bolton Final, with a 1 way trip to the Allan Cup Final hanging in the balance. 3 clean wins over the Ontario club, including a 33 save performance by Matte in Game 2, would open the series for Corner Brook, however things went south when over the next 4 games, the skilled Thunder Bay team stormed back, game by game, to complete an unbelievable 4-game comeback, ending the Royals hopes of winning the 1985 Allan Cup.
By the end of the 1985-86 regular season, things had changed. Matte would earn his first goaltender of the year award after posting a 3.75 average and 18 wins, as well as the regular season MVP award. This passion would translate into yet another provincial championship, as the Royals knocked off the Jets again, sending them back into the Allan Cup playdowns.
The 1986 quest for the Allan cup began in Brantford, where the Royals faced the Flamborough Motts Clamatos. The series would see both teams exchange victories, leading to a game 7 eastern playdowns final. Matte and the Royals would come out as victors in the end, setting their eyes on a national championship following an 8-5 victory over the Clamatos. For the historic final, the Royals would take on the Nelson Maple Leafs of British Columbia.
Furious over last year’s 7-game downfall, the Royals were dead-set on coming out on-top. This clearly showed as over 4 games, the ultimate display of skill was put out, as game after game, the Royals marched to victory. As history would have it, with a 3-0 stranglehold on the series, and a chance to take home the holy grail of Canadian senior hockey, Dave Matte stopped all 34 shots to earn an Allan Cup playoff shutout, the series MVP award, and his very first Allan Cup.
The victory laid the groundwork for clubs of the future to follow in the footsteps of what both Matte and the rest of the Royals did in 1986, most notably with Clarenville in 2011 and Grand Falls- Windsor in 2017, as the legacy of the Allan Cup returned to Newfoundland.
Matte would go on to represent the St. John’s Caps in 1987 as a pickup in the Allan Cup playoffs, and later won yet another Herder with the Royals in 1988. In 1991, Matte won his second Allan Cup while playing for the Charlottetown Islanders. His third and final national championship came the next season in 1992 with the Saint John Vito’s. In 2021 Matte was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey Hall of fame, thereby cementing his legacy as one of Newfoundland all-time greatest senior hockey goaltenders.
The Avalon East Senior Hockey League extends its sincerest condolences to Matte’s family and friends, as well as the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, Corner Brook Royals, and St. John’s Caps organizations.