Mat Myers (immediately to the right of the Clarence Campbell Bowl) helps break down video for the Predators. John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

 

The moment he started running around the house in his hockey gear and dragging his double-bladed skates across the pond near his home in Manchester, New Hampshire, Mat Myers was hooked. The son of a hockey coach, he knew that his life would always revolve around the sport.

As the Nashville Predators’ video coordinator, the origins of Myers’ NHL dreams are fairly typical. But his path to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, which opens Monday (8 p.m. ET) with Game 1 between the Predators and the defending-champion Pittsburgh Penguins, certainly isn’t.

Born with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, Myers, who is now 26, developed an average-sized torso but smaller limbs and a head larger than usual. The condition made walking and balance a challenge at a young age.

Looking to help his first-born child develop those skills — and for protection as well — Mat’s father saw an opportunity to pass down his passion for hockey.

“At a young age, my dad bought me and my brother hockey equipment,” Myers said. “Gloves, elbow pads and a helmet. I would always be wearing it around, just chasing my brother around. I was secretly loving the equipment, but it was more for safety reasons.”

He started playing organized hockey at age 6, but Myers eventually had to skate alongside children a few years his junior. By 12, he was forced to hang up his skates because of his condition but became a fixture around the team his father, Marty, coached at Bedford High School in Manchester while fanatically cheering on his two younger brothers and a little sister, each of whom played throughout high school.

“I’d just always be at the rink and live vicariously through my brothers, I guess,” Myers said. “Watching them grow up as hockey players in high school, going to their tryouts and their practices and every single game. Watching and just picturing if I wasn’t a little person, then that would be me out there. The passion was always stuck there and I continued to find ways to stay involved with hockey.”

Attending Trinity High School, a rival of his father’s program at Bedford, Myers became the varsity hockey team’s student manager. His enthusiasm proved so inspiring that midway through his freshman year he was invited to skate with the team during practices. Throughout high school, he’d take to the ice to push his teammates and affirm that his size wouldn’t keep him from skating.