Martel Overcomes Goalless Drought

Sunday, December 25, 2016
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Martel hoping momentum continues after the break

Written by: Tim Riday - Twitter

At one point, Danick Martel wondered if he was ever going to find the back of the net again.

The diminutive but dynamic forward got off to a hot start for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, scoring four goals - including two in the season opener - in his team's first six games of the 2016-17 season.

Then he went cold. Ice cold.

Martel entered last Saturday - the Phantoms' final game before the holiday break - with just one marker in his last 18 appearances.

Frustration had settled in. Especially considering the fact that he fired 39 shots on goal during that 18-game stretch. He was grabbing his stick a little tighter each night.

“I think every shot that you can take, you try to take it,” Martel said of his drought.

Pucks just weren't finding twine.

But Martel did what any other sniper would do. He kept pressing and pushing the pace.

Against Providence, Martel was finally rewarded for his efforts. He notched two goals on four shots and picked up an assist in a 7-1 rout of the Bruins to help the Phantoms go into the nine-day break on a high note.

It was also Lehigh Valley's fifth consecutive win in a row.

“Those five wins were all at home too," Martel said. "It’s really important finishing at the top of the standings at the end of the year so we can play at home. Four games out of seven in the playoffs, if we can win every home game it’s a better thing for the focus. We leave here on a high instead of sad and just exhausted.”

Martel, skating on a line with Jordan Weal and Nicolas Aube-Kubel, was a standout in the win over Providence. Every shift, the trio was creating quality chances in dangerous areas.

So it wasn't a major surprise to Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon that Martel, who was absolutely buzzing on the forecheck and crashing the net hard, managed to finally break through.

“He’s had some great chances," Gordon said. "Last [Friday] night, he some great chances. He had the one in the slot there. That line, in general, has been generating a lot of offensive opportunities. It was good to see him get some goals. Get some weight off his shoulders.”

Scoring goals and setting up teammates was something that came naturally to Martel at the junior level. During his time with Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the high-scoring Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he lit the lamp 99 times and earned 104 helpers for 204 points in 196 games.

His 5-foot-8, 166-pound frame has always been a concern, however. He can sometimes be a liability defensively when he gets caught running around trying to do too much. Perhaps that's why he went undrafted in 2015.

But that didn't stop the Philadelphia Flyers from giving him a shot.

Martel, who signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Flyers in March of 2015, has a wealth of offensive skill and his small stature can actually be an advantage in tight spaces. He's quite elusive and his skating ability has improved greatly over the years.

You won't see Martel take many shifts off. He's usually one of the most active and engaged players on the ice, too.

It's translated into some solid production in the AHL. He led the Phantoms with 22 goals in 67 games last season and has 18 points in 25 contests in 2016-17 thus far.

All told, he's recorded 30 tallies and 28 helpers in 97 career games with Lehigh Valley. Not bad for an undrafted forward, eh?

And now his confidence is sky high. Martel isn't worried about the time off, either. He’ll be on a mission when the Phantoms return to action on Dec. 26.

“Coming back, I’ll be at my top," he said. "I think I was playing pretty well in the few last games. I was not making a lot of mistakes. I was a plus-player. Goals were not coming. I had nine shots in Syracuse but no goals. Everything came for me tonight so it was perfect.”

Edited by: Tony Androckitis


PerttuJunnonaho said...

Has Tyler Coulbourne being promoted to the Phantoms or are we still so stupid that we don"t give him playing time he deserves! I have being so angry for i while now, because we treat Tyler so poorly and are playing vets instead of him! While Tyler is exactly the kind of energy player who we need in the Flyers killing our penalties in the fourth-line left wing position instead of Vandevelde who does not give our team the kind of character and grit that Tyler is able to bring as a role player!

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