Martin Carrying The Mail For Rebels
By Greg Meachem
Photo By Rob Wallator
Red Deer Rebels netminder Trevor Martin proved to be a capable alternative to Rylan Toth over the final 14 games of the regular season, but the WHL playoffs are another challenge altogether.
Still, Martin remains cool, calm and collected and is confident he and his teammates can experience first-round success against the Calgary Hitmen, who visit the Centrium Friday and Saturday for the opening games of a best-of-seven conference quarter-final.
“I think it’s been fun,” Martin said Monday, in reference to playing the starter’s role, a position he inherited when Toth went down with a high ankle sprain on Feb. 13.
“It’s something you want to be . . . you want to be the No. 1 guy and as a team I think we’ve all been playing really well. We’re ready to get the ball rollin’.”
Martin allowed 34 goals in 14 starts after replacing Toth, including just four in his last five outings. Meanwhile, he lowered his goals-against average to 2.63 and raised his save percentage to .911.
Clearly, just the fact that he’s been given the opportunity to guard the Red Deer net on a nightly basis has made him a more trustworthy and consistent goaltender.
“For sure, any time you get in the net you’re always going to gain more confidence,” said the Ardrossan product, who celebrated his 20th birthday in February and posted an 18-8-1-1 regular-season record.
“I think that’s a big thing, getting the reps in and getting more plays in, especially in practice. You want to make sure you’re dialled in and ready to go.”
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter has noticed the increased confidence exhibited by Martin over the past month and change.
“He’s playing more and feeling like he’s the No. 1 guy, which he is right now,” said Sutter. “We need that type of play from him and we expect that from him.”
The Rebels boss also likes Martin’s mental makeup.
“Like I said before, he’s a battler, he doesn’t let things affect him,” said Sutter. “We went through a few games where we got down one or two goals early and yet were able to battle back as a team while he closed the door.
“That was important and he’s continued to play well for us. He gives us a chance to win on a regular basis.”
Martin agrees that his mindset is a personal strength.
“That’s something that Taylor (Rebels goaltending consultant Dakers) and I have talked about and with (mental development coach) Derek Robinson . . . he’s very good with the mental side of the game,” said Martin, whose WHL rights were acquired from the Saskatoon Blades in early January of last year.
“There are things you can’t control and if something doesn’t go your way you have to know that you have the tools in the toolbox to get right back at it.”
Martin gives the Rebels blueline brigade props for helping him settle in as the main man between the pipes.
“Our defence is very good, I definitely think we have one of the best defensive corps in the league,” he stated. “They’re very good and they have (associate coach) Jeff Truitt helping them. We have a really good group of guys.”
Martin suggested that he won’t enter the playoffs with a different game plan than has been the case since he took over the top job.
“It’s the same game, I don’t think there’s anything different,” he said. “I have to approach it the right way. That’s the same thing I’ve talked to Taylor and Derek about — our mindset going in (to the post-season).
“It’s the same old game, same rink and same old puck.”
- Rebels veteran forward Conner Bleackley underwent surgery at 4 a.m. Sunday after suffering torn tendons in his wrist during Saturday’s 7-2, regular-season ending win over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. He’s out indefinitely . . . Toth resumed skating — on his own — for the first time Monday, but is likely at least a week away from returning to active duty . . . Forward Evan Polei returned to practice Monday and is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury . . . Game Three of the Rebels/Hitmen series is scheduled for Sunday at the Saddledome. The fourth game — with the Saddledome hosting the Juno Awards — will go April 1 at the old Stampede Corral, which will also host a sixth game, if necessary, April 4. The fifth game is slated for April 2 at the Centrium, the site of a seventh game, if needed, on April 6.