In the 25-plus seasons since the Grizzlies joined the BC Hockey League, they’ve produced several famous alumni. For their 25th anniversary in 2019, the Grizz invited alumnus Matt Pettinger to drop the puck at their home opener.
Pettinger had a long career in professional hockey and played everywhere from Portland, Maine to Hamburg, Germany. He played in the National Hockey League for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Vancouver Canucks. Pettinger started his junior hockey career playing for the Salsa before going to the NCAA.
While playing in Victoria, Pettinger contributed just fine but didn’t put up huge point totals. In 1996-97, his first season, he had 22 goals and 14 assists. The following season, he had 20 goals and 22 assists as the Salsa made the playoffs for the first time.
After the 1997-98 season, Pettinger joined the University of Denver Pioneers ice hockey team. His first season in the NCAA with Denver saw Pettinger score six goals and 14 assists. As a sophomore in 1999-00, he notched two goals and six assists before heading to the Western Hockey League.
Mid-season, he joined the Calgary Hitmen. In 27 games, Pettinger posted 14 goals and six assists. He also played for Canada’s World Junior team that year and scored four goals in 7 games.
His professional debut came after being selected by the Washington Capitals 43rd overall in the 2000 NHL Draft.
— Peter Bondra (@PeterBondra12) June 26, 2018
Pettinger made his pro hockey debut with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League as a 19-year-old in 2000-01. In 64 games with Portland, Pettinger scored 19 goals and 17 assists and also played ten games for Washington that year
Splitting time between “The Show” and the minors
For three seasons from 2000-03, Pettinger split time between the Capitals and Pirates. He spent 61 games in the NHL in 2001-02 with Washington and put up 10 points. Pettinger added six points in nine AHL games with Portland.
In 2002-03, he was back in the minors, scoring 27 points in 69 games with Portland.
During the 2003-04 season, Pettinger was a regular on the Capitals roster once again. During 71 games that season, he scored seven goals and five assists.
Next season, he went to Europe during the NHL lockout and played eight games with HDD Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He scored two goals and five assists in those eight games.
When the NHL resumed, Pettinger had a career season in 2005-06 with 20 goals and 18 assists in 71 games. In the 2006-07 season, Pettinger had 16 goals and 16 assists.
2007-08 was his last season in Washington as the Caps traded Pettinger to Vancouver for Matt Cooke. In the 76 games that season between the Capitals and Canucks, he earned six goals and seven assists.
Pettinger started the 2008-09 season with the Canucks’ AHL farm team in Manitoba. He scored three goals in two games before being claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay. He played 59 games for the Lightning while scoring eight goals and seven assists.
The Lightning didn’t renew Pettinger’s contract at the end of the season and he signed a professional try-out contract with Manitoba. He later signed a two-way deal with the Canucks.
— Canucks Autism Network (@canucksautism) January 26, 2020
Splitting time between Vancouver and Manitoba, Pettinger played 63 games and scored 15 goals and 18 assists. He also played his only NHL playoff game in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings. 2009-10 was his last season in the NHL.
In August 2010, Pettinger went to Europe and joined Cologne Sharks of the German Hockey League. He played two seasons with the Sharks, scoring 28 goals and 54 assists total. In 2012-13, Pettinger joined the Hamburg Freezers.
Career end and post-hockey life
Pettinger played his final two pro seasons in Hamburg. In 2012-13, he had nine goals and 20 assists in 49 games, and the following season, Pettinger had 12 goals and 16 assists in 47 games. His final season saw him score eight goals and 11 assists in 38 games.
After hockey, Pettinger studied and obtained a commercial broker’s realtor’s license. In June 2015, he joined Devoncore Realty in Victoria and currently resides in Oak Bay with his wife, Chelsea.