By: Avery Hudkins and Bella Hunt
Matthew Domanchuk has been on the ice since he was 7 years old. He continues to show his determination and commitment through his reputation as a hockey player on the OKC Oil Kings, an 18U AA (youth hockey league) team. He not only continues to show his efforts on the ice but also at Jenks High School, where he is currently a Junior.
I had the opportunity to watch Domanchuk play in OKC. Walking into the ice rink was such a surreal experience. To the left of me, you see people all across the sides of the rink gathered around watching. I walked around just to get the feel and looked from left to right scanning, to just take it all in. It was cold (of course it is, it’s hockey). I walked up the stairs and was stunned by how many people were there to cheer on the players, signs were being held up by parents, and friends shouting at the top of their lungs. You could hear the endless chants of his fellow teammates and their families. Domanchuk, a student at Jenks High School, shows his determination and skill not only on the ice but in the classroom. When Matthew Domanchuk (11) stepped onto the ice, people yelled his name.
“My dad played a little bit and he got me into it. I just have a lot of fun playing hockey and that’s just what keeps me going,” said Matthew Domanchuk.
The Oil Kings are located in Oklahoma City. Domanchuk does in fact live in Tulsa and is a full-time student at Jenks which means he has to make his way to OKC just to play hockey. His love of the sport keeps him going and he’s willing to do what it takes to be able to play.
“I was a freshman and there wasn’t going to be a team in Tulsa so I decided to go to OKC and play. I really liked the coach there and the guys,” said Domanchuk.
Being a full-time student and playing a sport isn’t always easy. Matthew proves every single day that he can put in the effort to be successful on and off the ice. His schedule may be extremely crazy but in the end, he’s willing to make sacrifices to keep on playing hockey. Mondays he occasionally has practices in Tulsa, Tuesday is his rest day where he usually catches up on any homework he needs to do, Wednesday and Thursday he makes his way down to OKC to practice with his teams. This can be difficult especially when OKC is around an hour and a half away. Practices can last long. Friday through Sunday is usually games or if he doesn’t have games they are considered rest days. On top of him playing on his team, he does in fact take all AP classes at Jenks. The determination that Matthew has is incredible and the skills that he has to maneuver his busy schedule is outstanding and very inspirational as a whole.
Matthew not only has had success through his hockey career but also with friendships as well. He has been able to make lifelong friends with the boys on the OKC Oil Kings team. All the boys are very talented and have the same determination as Domanchuk does. Specifically, one player that Matthew has gotten close with is Ashton Pavao.
“I’ve played with Dom for about 3 years and over those years I’ve seen him mature and grow as a player and a person,” said Ashton Pavao.
Pavao shared his experience on the team with Domanchuk and he had nothing negative to say about it. In fact, he showed how much progress Domanchuk has shown throughout the three years they have played together.
“He’s gotten a lot better with and without the puck and is always full of integrity off the ice, just an all-around great guy to be around,” said Ashton Pavao.
Pavao went into more detail about their relationship as a whole.
“My relationship with Domo is really good on and off the ice and I’ve never really heard many negative things come out of his mouth,” said Ashton Pavao. “He contributes motivation and is a very hard worker. Everything he has to say to the team as a captain is positive and he never puts anyone down”.
He not only has great bonds with his teammates but also has created special bonds with his coaches. Especially his head coach Shane Khalaf who actually graduated from Jenks back in 2008.
“It’s crazy because so many of my memories are of playing hockey and having a lot of friends from other schools,” said Khalaf. “I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my friends in high school because I was always traveling, but I all around had a really good experience at Jenks regardless.”
Khalaf started his path of hockey by doing travel hockey. He joined a team in Tulsa that had originally played for a league in Dallas. After high school, he wanted to keep on playing so he pursued another team in Tulsa. Khalaf started college later and attended UCO and actually played for a team at UCO from 2011 to 2015.
Khalaf talked about the recruiting process and described what he looked for in a player. He wants someone who can play fast and think quickly. Not only that but looks for kids who have good personalities off the ice. He wants to have people that have the determination to play and the ability to work well with other players.
“Matthew is a great kid and a joy to be around,” Khalaf said. “He’s one of the most talented players I’ve ever come across. The first year I had him, my assistant coach and I would just look at each other on the bench and just be amazed and ask ourselves did he just do that.”
He shows his efforts and determination to play time and time again.
“Matthew plays his best in the biggest games. He is very good under pressure and always steps up. When you look at his stats for the season they are meaningful points that come from big games. He’s usually the one who finds the net when we need it in those tight games,” Khalaf said.
Domanchuk has the drive to pull the team to victory when they need it the most. Matthew “plays all 200 feet” of the ice. He is very good defensively as well. In the hockey world, it’s considered almost a badge of honor when you lay down to block a shot from the other team and that is exactly what Domanchuk does.
His hard work and love for the sport paid off during his 18U National Championship Tournament. He scored with just 2 minutes and 26 seconds remaining and brought the team home for a 3-2 win against Atlanta Fire. The Oil Kings had to put in hard work time and time again and it showed throughout their entire season. Domanchuk will continue to make an impact wherever life takes him and we can’t wait to see his plans unfold. If you would like to see more information about their win at nationals in full detail check out https://nationals.usahockey.com/news_article/show/1219503?fbclid=IwAR0Odbfp7o4-xrRDe3oJ3EurpbCtpe3Hw6RLXMv_Tnh6L0PdO0GUtMAo5Nw
Domanchuk is truly a talented athlete who shows the time, commitment, and effort you have to put into a sport. He brings in some insane stats for the team according to Coach Khalaf. It will truly be a sight to watch him continuously grow as a student at Jenks but also on the ice playing the sport he loves. Domanchuk isn’t quite sure where he will end up next year but we wouldn’t be shocked to see him taking on a higher-level team and progressing in his career.