Hadley’s Mathew Hanscom commits to RPI hockey


Published: 8/3/2022 5:11:34 PM

Every decision Mathew Hanscom made for the past half decade led to this moment.

Leaving his hometown of Hadley to play hockey at Pope Francis, transferring to Westminster and repeating his sophomore year were all in pursuit of a Division I hockey scholarship. The junior verbally committed to play at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on Tuesday in an Instagram post.

“Everything I’ve done thus far hockey-related has been to go get a great education and play Division I college hockey and beyond that if I can,” Hanscom said Wednesday.

RPI, which plays in the ECAC, reached out to him the first moment it could on Jan. 1. The Engineers staff saw him play in a Christmas tournament for Westminster and called him once the new year turned. Hanscom set up a visit in Troy, NY, a few weeks later. He loved the campus and the Houston Field House, where the team plays its home games. RPI has made the NCAA Tournament but boasts two national championships (1954 and 1985) and has been to the Frozen Four five times.

He also received interest from programs like UMass Lowell and Yale, but they weren’t as prompt or consistent as RPI.

The Engineers kept in touch over the summer and watched him in Buffalo at the Team USA Hockey National Development Camp over the summer. RPI couldn’t offer him a scholarship until Monday, but did so immediately when rules allowed. Hanscom accepted it almost as quickly.

“A pretty sweet deal. I couldn’t really pass it up,” Hanscom said. “The coaches really love me there. It was more special than other schools.”

Playing with one of his best friends sweetened the deal even further. Fellow Westminster Martlet Ryan Shaw pledged to RPI the same day. They started at Pope Francis together, and Hanscom even lived with Shaw in East Longmeadow for an hour rather than commuting from Hadley every day.

The pair matriculated to Westminster together and ensured their time as teammates won’t end once they leave the Simsbury, Conn. campus.

“That’s one of the cooler parts about this. I didn’t really know him before, but we became best friends instantly,” Hanscom said. “That’s something really special to me.”

Hanscom will be a junior this fall at Westminster after reclassifying and repeating his sophomore season last year. He collected two goals and six assists in 26 games. Hanscom said the RPI coaches see him as a two-way defenseman and he’ll focus on playing to his identity and the way they want him to.

“This is even more motivating and giving me that much more to push for,” Hanscom said. “It’s a really exciting, fresh start.”

As his hockey journey continues, Hanscom understands the work and sacrifice it took to put him in this position. Leaving home wasn’t easy, but it gave him the opportunity to find another one on the ice.

“Moving away from Hadley, there wasn’t too much opportunity for me to excel in hockey because there’s not a lot of hockey here. Moving down to Springfield or Connecticut is where you have to go, or out to Boston. There’s not a lot around here,” Hanscom said. “You need to do that if you’re really going to try and go for this hockey dream.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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