A 72-game season, riding the bus, the Sutter reputation and a chance to play in the “prestigious” Western Hockey League have driven one player more than 2,500 km to try to crack the Red Deer Rebels lineup.
Quinn Martin, 17, has been in Red Deer for a few weeks getting ready for training camp, which opened Wednesday. The Santa Fe, New Mexico native was in Red Deer for prospects camp back in June and made enough of an impression to get invited back.
“It’s a higher pace and a higher level,” said Martin. “I feel ready and I feel like everything has been great so far.
“I feel ready, I feel pretty strong in my skates.”
He was chosen by the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League, but seeing the franchise go through three different coaching regimes in three different years put the young player off.
“The USHL is a definitely and option in the States, but I didn’t really have a good connection with them (Phantoms coach),” said Martin. “There’s also the National College Athletic Association, but the structure of the league didn’t entice me much. I’m not sure about the 30-game schedule, I want to be on the ice as much as I can.”
The six-foot, 169 pound winger weighed several options to pursue his hockey career and the chance to play in the WHL was one he couldn’t pass up.
“Everyone hears about the WHL and it’s not a bad place to be,” said Martin. “It was my first choice overall. I got to know the coaches here at the prospects camp and it seemed really professional and they have a really good program here.”
Martin first strapped on a pair of skates when he was five and fell in love with hockey ever since. His passion led him to leave home at 13 to go to a prep school in Boston. He then spent the past two seasons with the Colorado Thunderbirds U16 in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League in the U.S.
Last season Martin scored six goals and 13 assists in 32 games with the Thunderbirds.
The straight-shooting Martin admitted he doesn’t have much of an idea of where he could fit in to the Rebel’s lineup.
“I just want to try to bring my complete game,” he said. “I’m not going to try to do anything I’m not or play like the player I’m not. I’m going to play in both ends, hustle, make good plays, try to score, try to get points.
“Try to find my spot on the team.”
Main camp roster: (returnees in bold)
Goalies — Rylan Toth (1996), Trevor Martin (1996), Dawson Weatherill (1999) and Riley Lamb (1998).
Defence — Colton Bobyk (1996), Carson Sass (1999), Zach Wytinck (1999), Austin Strand (1997), Jacob Herauf (2000), Josh Mahura (1998), Alexander Alexeyev (1999), Ethan Sakowich (1999), Tyrell McCubbing (1999), Kyle Dronyk (1999) and Cale Chalifoux (1998).
Left Wing — Quinn Martin (1999), Grayson Pawlenchuk (1997), Austin Shmoorkoff (1997), Carter Barley (1999), Evan Polei (1996) and Akash Bains (1999).
Centre — Adam Musil (1997), D-Jay Jerome (1999), Chase Lowry (2000), Michael Spacek (1997), Ben Hiltz (1999) and Reese Johnson (1998).
Right Wing — Austin Pratt (1999), Jeff de Wit (1998), Zac Gladu (1998), Brandon Hagel (1998), Taden Rattie (1998) and Brayden Labant (1999).