Komets hope 21-year-old’s work ethic has big payoff
What Phelix Martineau lacks in stature : he’s listed as 5-foot-11 : he makes up for in work ethic. And he’s certainly shown that in his time with the Komets, totaling 10 goals and 20 points in his first 21 professional games, including 10 playoff games.
“It’s been like that my whole career. I’ve always been a smaller guy and had to work twice as hard to make the teams, whatever category it was,” said Martineau, a native of Laval, Quebec. “So I guess it’s a skill now for me to be able to make my plays now wherever I go. I’m used to it.”
The Komets have demonstrated an aptitude at finding players coming from juniors or college late in regular seasons : think Justin Hodgman or Daniel Maggio : and Martineau shined with two goals and three points in his first three games last spring, thanks to speed and an ability to slither his way through opposing defenses.
It was that skill that allowed him to accrue 34 goals and 66 points in 68 games last season for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and earn a contract with the Triple-A American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket, while the Komets were still engaged in their postseason.
There was a hitch, though. Martineau was victim of an attempted slew foot by Toledo’s Mike Embach during Game 4 of the Central Division finals : Embach was fined by the ECHL : and Martineau aggravated an ankle injury two minutes into the next game, both Fort Wayne victories.
Martineau sat out the entire seven-game Western Conference finals loss to the eventual-champion Colorado Eagles, then worked hard all summer to be ready for the Rocket’s training camp.
“I was playing (in Laval) with guys who had some games in the NHL, and I took a lot of experience out of there and they helped me a lot through that camp,” said Martineau, 21.
Komets coach Gary Graham said that’s typical Phelix.
“He’s a humble, modest guy,” Graham said. “Really what he should be saying is he ‘had a tremendous training camp up in Laval.’ He had that high ankle sprain that ... he was dealing with for a lot of the summer and he had to amplify his training throughout the summer to get ready for training camp. Scott Mellanby (the Montreal Canadiens’ director of player personnel) up in Laval said he had a great training camp and that he’s just got a lot of guys right now, but I would imagine that he’ll get a look there eventually.”
The Komets felt so strongly about Martineau after last season that they played hardball, protecting his ECHL rights and demanding a lot of compensation if Laval wanted him placed with another ECHL team.
“I was really happy to be back here, knowing some of the guys and knowing the coaching staff and the fans. It was really great this worked out,” said Martineau, who has four goals and nine points in eight games this season for the Komets (5-6-0), who play Friday at Cincinnati (7-3-2).
Martineau said having some pro experience from last season has helped him.
“For sure, I came in more comfortable,” he said. “To play with men last year, it helped through coming in this year. So I took a lot from last year, for sure.”
Notes: The Komets will practice at Thunder Ice Arena at Trine University in Angola from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, open to the public, because there will be no ice at Memorial Coliseum and the Midwestern Sectional Figure Skating Championships will be at SportONE/Parkview Icehouse.