2010-11: Matt Buckles played for the Don Mills Flyers minor midget AAA team in Ontario. He scored 16 goals with 15 assists in 39 games and had 66 penalty minutes. He was selected by Sault Ste. Marie in the fourth round (75th overall) of the 2011 OHL Priority Draft.
2011-12: Buckles joined the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, maintaining his NCAA eligibility. He scored 15 goals with 21 assists in 46 regular season games and had 76 penalty minutes. The Patriots reached the South/East Conference Final and in 21 playoff games Buckles scored 5 goals with 6 assists and 20 penalty minutes. In November he committed to playing college hockey at Cornell in 2013-14.
2012-13: Obtained by St. Michael’s in an OJHL trade for Nathan Feric, Buckles had 71 points and 107 penalty minutes for the Buzzers and played for Canada East in the 2012 U19 World Junior A Challenge. He scored 40 goals with 31 assists in 50 games. The Buzzers finished first in the South Division and won the OJHL playoff title. Buckles scored 7 goals with 10 assists and had 54 penalty minutes in 17 playoff games. Buckles scored 2 goals with 4 assists and 4 penalty minutes in five games at the Hewitt Cup. St. Michael’s lost in overtime to the Minnesota Wilderness in the finals, missing a chance at the Royal Bank Cup (Canada Junior A championship). Buckles was ranked 117th amongst North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings and selected by Florida in the fourth round (98th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.
2013-14: Buckles skated in 29 of 32 games for Cornell University in his freshman season. He scored 4 goals and was -3 with 34 penalty minutes. The Big Red finished fourth in ECAC Hockey and defeated Clarkson in a three-game quarterfinal series before falling to eventual national champion Union, 5-2, in the ECAC Hockey semifinals.
2014-15: Buckles improved upon a rather pedestrian freshman campaign in 2014-15 with a solid sophomore season. He doubled his previous season’s goal total of four to eight goals and also added three assists. He finished sixth on Cornell in scoring and was also fourth on the team with 33 penalty minutes.
2015-16: Buckles scored eight goals in 31 games for Cornell University in his junior season — tying freshman Mitchell Vanderlaan for third on the team behind Anthony Angello (11) and Jeff Kubiak (10). He had 3 assists and was -3 with 4 penalty minutes. The Big Red finished tied with Dartmouth for seventh in ECAC Hockey, sweeping Union College in an ECAC first-round series and splitting two games with eventual champion Quinnipiac in the quarterfinals before falling 6-3 in the decisive third game.
Buckles is a competitor with the prototypical size of a power forward. He has a two-way mindset and the necessary tools to make him an effective player. Buckles does not stand out in any single skillset, but is a good all-around player who works hard on every shift.
Buckles was among the leading goal scorers for a Cornell team that struggled to score goals in 2015-16. The junior's overall game remains a work in progress and he will likely have to be more consistent in all areas in 2016-17 to earn an entry-level contract with Florida following the season. Long-term Buckle's combination of size and skill with a willingness to go to the net suggests that he can be a lower line power forward with some scoring ability.