2008-09: Matthew Peca played for the Ottawa Valley Titans in the OEMHL Midget AAA league. He was selected by the Windsor Spitfires in the 8th round (141st overall) of the OHL Priority Draft.
2009-10: Peca spurned the OHL to play with the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Tier 1 Central Junior Hockey League (CJHL) (and maintain his NCAA eligibility). He was named Rookie of the Year in the CJHL after scoring 21 goals with 26 assists in 60 games for the Lumber Kings. Peca added 3 goals with 3 assists in 15 games in the post-season. Peca committed to playing college hockey at Quinnipiac University in 2011-12.
2010-11: Peca was the most dominant forward in Canadian Tier 1 Junior Hockey, leading the Pembroke Lumber Kings to the CJHL and RBC Cup championships. In 50 regular season games, Peca scored 26 goals with 46 assists and scored 10 power play goals and 3 game-winners. In the playoffs, he scored 11 goals with 10 assists in 14 games. Peca represented Canada East in the World U-19 Challenge and scored 2 goals with 2 assists in five games. Following the season, Peca was the subject of a tug-of-war of sorts between the OHL – where first Kingston and then Kitchener traded for his OHL rights – and the QMJHL, where Patrick Roy’s Quebec Ramparts hoped to sign him. Peca, instead, enrolled at Quinnipiac and will begin his college career in 2011-12. Peca was selected by the Lightning in the 7th round (201st overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
2011-12: Peca was the second-leading scorer for Quinnipiac University as a freshman. Playing on the Bobcats’ top line with twin brothers Kellen Jones (EDM) and Connor Jones he scored 8 goals with 31 assists and was an even plus-minus with 12 penalty minutes. Quinnipiac won 20 games and finished fifth in ECAC Hockey but failed to receive an NCAA tournament bid after falling to Colgate in the ECAC quarterfinals.
2012-13: Once again spending much of the season on a line with the Jones twins, Peca was the second-leading scorer for Quinnipiac in his sophomore season. In 39 games he scored 15 goals with 15 assists and was +13 with 36 penalty minutes. The Bobcats won the ECAC Hockey regular season title and finished third in the conference tournament – losing to Brown in the semifinals then defeating Yale, 3-0 , in the third-place game. The Bulldogs returned the favor in the Frozen Four national championship game; defeating Quinnipiac 4-0, after the Bobcats had beaten Canisius and Union to capture the East Regional championship and topped St. Cloud State, 4-1, in the Frozen Four semifinals.
2013-14: Peca was the fourth-leading scorer for Quinnipiac University in his junior season behind freshman Sam Anas, the Bobcats’ leading scorer, and twin brothers Kellen and Connor Jones. He scored 12 goals with a team-high 26 assists and was +4 with 16 penalty minutes in 40 games. Quinnipiac finished third in ECAC Hockey and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament after losing in double overtime to Colgate in the conference semifinals. Providence topped Quinnipiac, 4-0 in an NCAA East Regional semifinal game.
2014-15: Peca signed a two-year entry-level contract with Tampa Bay in April 2015 following his senior season at Quinnipiac and made his pro hockey debut with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. He scored 1 goal with 3 assists and was -1 with no penalties in eight regular season games for Syracuse and had 1 goal with 1 assist with an even plus/minus in the Crunch’s three-game playoff series against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Peca led Quinnipiac in assists with 29 and scored 7 goals in 39 games for the Bobcats, finishing three points behind Sam Anas for the team scoring lead. He had an even plus/minus with 27 penalty minutes. Quinnipiac finished first in ECAC Hockey in the regular season, receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA West Regional after a 5-2 loss to Harvard in the conference tournament semifinals. The Bobcats lost to North Dakota, 4-1, in the West Regional semifinals.
Peca is a high-energy player who plays at a very high pace. Not to be confused with former NHLer Michael Peca (no direct relation), he played in the same junior league as Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and plays with some of the same characteristics. A diminutive, undersized forward, Peca constantly flies around the rink and is effective on both ends of the ice. He is very good at using his speed both to create offensive opportunities and to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Though his size is a concern, he was highly sought after by teams in major junior hockey due to his high skill level and scoring acumen. He should continue to develop as he grows and matures.
Peca made a positive first impression in a late season stint with Tampa Bay AHL affiliate Syracuse in 2014-15 following his final season of college hockey. He will be expected to provide consistent offense for the Crunch in his first season of pro hockey in 2015-16. Long-term Peca's skill set suggests he should fit in well in the Tampa Bay system though with the surplus of forwards coming through the Lightning pipeline his opportunity to play in the NHL may come elsewhere. His skill set also suggests he could put up big offensive numbers playing in Europe. He will constantly be challenged to prove he can compete against the bigger and faster opponents at the pro level but Peca is more talented than most seventh-round picks and could be a steal if he continues to produce as he moves up the hockey ladder.