Matt Read signs with Philadelphia Flyers, becomes seventh Bemidji State player to reach pros

Matt Read signed with the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Matt Read will continue his career in the National Hockey League.

The former Bemidji State hockey player signed a multi-year, one-way contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

“This really means a lot to me to be granted the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League,” Read said in a phone interview Wednesday. “To have this professional opportunity is something I’ve dreamed about my entire life and it is a big moment for me.”

Read flew to Philadelphia American Hockey League affiliate Adirondack Phantoms in Glens Falls, New York on Wednesday. He is expected to be in uniform Thursday and will spend the rest of this season with the Phantoms. His free-agent contract begins at the start of the 2011-12 season.

“I’m very proud of Matt and how patient he was through this whole signing process,” Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said. “He led us into the first season in the WCHA and the first season in the Sanford Center. He accomplished a lot of things at BSU and now it’s great to see he is fortunate enough to sign with one of the most successful, most visible franchises in the National Hockey League.”

There were other NHL teams looking to sign Read, but Philadelphia was the front-runner. Read described his experience with the Flyers as an ongoing process through the past season and talks became serious Monday afternoon. Bemidji State ended its season at the WCHA Final Five in St. Paul last Friday.

“They were just a team that showed a lot of interest in me,” Read said of the Flyers. “I really liked their professional business manner. I really liked how they handled their business and I think it’s a great fit for me.”

Read said his parents, Lorne and Nancy, are very grateful for the opportunity.

“My Dad and Mom are both excited to hear about this and they are very proud,” Read said. “They are still in a little bit of shock.”

Read is Bemidji State’s Division I record-holder for goals (65), assists (78), points (143) and games played (147). He was the team captain last season and led the team with 22 goals. His 35 overall points ranked second on the team.

“He will be just fine in the NHL,” Serratore said. “Even though it’s a big jump, he has the maturity, talent and is an extremely competitive player. His game is going to transfer nice and he will be able to pick things up quickly. He has the intangibles other players don’t have.”

Read is the seventh player in Bemidji State history to make it to the NHL. Matt Climie, a 2008 graduate, is currently playing in the Phoenix Coyotes organization and Andrew Murray, a 2005 graduate, is playing in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. Other BSU alumni who played in the NHL are Jim McElmury, Dale Smedsmo, Gary Sargent and Stanley Cup champion Joel Otto.

“It really couldn’t happen to a better person or a better player,” Serratore said. “He was the face of our program and the player of the decade for us. The whole community of Bemidji can be happy for Matt Read.”

A native of Ilderton, Ontario, Read came to Bemidji State as a freshman in 2007 and led the team in scoring his first three years. He earned College Hockey America Rookie of the Year as a freshman, CHA Tournament MVP in 2009, CHA Player of the Year in 2010 and All-American honors during his career with the Beavers.

Bemidji State experienced two CHA Tournament championships, two NCAA Tournaments, a Frozen Four and a WCHA Final Five with Read on the roster.

“I have to give a lot of credit for playing in Bemidji,” Read said. “Being able to come in as a freshman and be given the opportunity to be a key player night in and night out really exposed me to the scouts. It also helps we had great success as a team and I hope other players get credit as well.”