Call From Former Coach
Helps Stingrays’ Fornataro

By Andrew Miller
The Post and Courier

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – For 30 minutes, South Carolina Stingrays forward Matt Fornataro sat in his apartment and listened to his former junior hockey coach — P.K. O’Handley.

It was mid-November and the former University of New Hampshire star was struggling to find his place with his new team and in the ECHL.

“I was definitely struggling there for a while,” Fornataro said. “I wasn’t putting up any points, and it seemed like every time I was on the ice the other team was scoring. It felt like I was a minus-50 at one point. It felt like everything was snowballing on me and I couldn’t get out.”

If Fornataro was looking for a pat on the back or some words of encouragement from the Waterloo Black Hawks coach and former Florida Everblades assistant coach, he didn’t get them. As a matter of fact, he got just the opposite, a good kick in the pants.

It might not have been what Fornataro wanted to hear at the time, but he admits now it’s what he needed to hear.

“He’s like a second father to me, and he knows me so well,” Fornataro said. “He just gave it to me for about a half-hour. He kept telling me, ‘you’re probably not doing this or doing that. You’re probably not starting and stopping. You’re feeling sorry for yourself.’ It wasn’t exactly a pep talk, but someone had to say it to me to get me out of the funk I was in.”

The next day, Fornataro showed up to the rink early and began to work on the fundamentals of his game.

“I went back to basics. I knew what I needed to work harder in practice and I started to do that,” Fornataro said.

“The phone call I had with (O’Handley) definitely was the beginning of me turning things around.”

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