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 in penalty minutes with 33.
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 is one of three Cornell skaters eligible to return for the 2015-16 season so he should be relied upon to have a big impact offensively. The big-bodied pivot could assume the first-line center job, though Cornell is a team that lacks an offensive punch so his numbers may be skewed a bit in that regard.