WESTFIELD, NJ — Strength. Grit. Resiliency. According to Joseph Bertucci, head coach of the boys varsity ice hockey team at Westfield High School, senior captain Matt Rittendale possesses all of these attributes within his skillset and character.
Bertucci was quick to point out the measures that this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week has taken to not only improve his game, but also to enhance his mentality and establish leadership skills.
“The thing that has impressed me the most is his consistency on the ice and his leadership off the ice,” Bertucci remarked about Rittendale. “He has done a nice job stepping up as the leader of this team, and he has the team working hard for one another.”
Now a senior, Rittendale acknowledged that he is more focused this year on providing leadership to younger players than he has been in previous seasons. Primarily offensive-minded as a freshman, Rittendale said he came to realize throughout high school that being a good teammate and a good hockey player consists of more than scoring goals.
“Now that I’m back for my senior year, I have taken more of a leadership role for sure,” he said. “We have a great balance on the team, so I’m not always the guy that we look to to score goals. This has allowed me to focus more on my complete game and show the younger players what it takes to win.”
Rittendale credits his development to all of his former and current teammates and coaches. In addition, as a left wing, he idolizes another notorious goal-scorer and hard worker: Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, one of the NHL’s premier offensive players.
“The way he works allows him to do whatever he wants with the puck and get around defensemen so easily. He just gets his way when he’s playing,” Rittendale said of McDavid.
It is then no surprise that, according to Bertucci, Rittendale’s strengths as a player are his tenacity and determination. Similarly to McDavid, Rittendale strives to get his way on the ice, letting no one get in the way of the goals he sets for himself.
Hockey has long been a sport that Rittendale has admired, mainly because of the teamwork and comradery embedded within the game. For him, nothing beats playing the sport he loves with his friends and working with them to collectively achieve their goals.
While currently focused on his senior season and delivering a championship for Westfield, Rittendale said he hopes to play club hockey in college.
Jared Greenspan is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.
The Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Agency. Located 502 East Broad St., the agency has been protecting local families and business owners for over 15 years. Call them at 908-301-0711 for a new auto, home or life insurance quote this week and if you mention the Allstate WHS Athlete of the Week they will make a $25 contribution to the Westfield Boosters Association! To learn more, visit ronbansky.com.