February 6, 2015
By Derek Holtom
MJHL Web Correspondent
At the 2014 Western Canada Cup, the host Dauphin Kings were in a pickle.
Already down one net minder, the Kings were dealt another blow: Jordan Piccolino – their starting goalie in a win-and-you’re-in contest – also got injured in the first period.
Enter 16-year-old Winnipeg native Troy Martyniuk. He came in, stopped 24 of 26 shots, and the Dauphin Kings advanced to the RBC Cup in Vernon, B.C.
Now a full-time member of the Kings, Martyniuk remembers the sequence of events which led him to help the Kings to the national championship.
“I was drafted by the Kings in the draft year, and after my season (last year) was done they brought me up for the Western Canada Cup, just in case, as the third goaltenders,” said Martyniuk, who graduated from the Winnipeg Thrashers’ program.
“Then we had one goalie go down early in the tournament, and another in the final. It ended up being very exciting, getting a chance to play. It was a surreal moment for me.”
Martyniuk also got the chance to attend the RBC Cup, and though he wasn’t called upon again, he did have the opportunity to soak in the national junior A championship.
“It was a great experience for me, getting to see the top junior A hockey in Canada, and seeing how fast hockey can be,” he said.
That was last year. This year, Martyniuk is a 17-year-old rookie with the Dauphin Kings who are in a rebuilding mode after last year’s RBC Cup run.
Martyniuk has been getting plenty of starts, tied for first in rookie starts with 26, along with a GAA of 3.38 and a save percentage of .896.
Martyniuk is also the recent winner of the Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the
Week award, putting together a 2-0 record, a 2.50 GAA and a .935 save percentage to win that honour.
With the Kings likely headed to the survivor series round, Martyniuk said the team is starting to round into shape as the playoffs draw near.
“We’re a team that feeds off momentum, and once we get the ball moving, we’re hard to stop,” said Martyniuk, whose father Wayne also played in the MJHL with St. James Canadians.
The five-foot-10-inch, 140-pound net minder had plenty of starts in his two seasons with the Winnipeg Thrashers of the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League, including one season where he posted a GAA of 1.36 and a save percentage of .940. But this is junior hockey, and Martyniuk says there are some big differences.
“The strength of the guys, they battle harder,” he said. “And the speed, how fast they can move the play – those are some major differences.”
Martyniuk took to goaltending at a young age, following his older brother, Brett, into the net. (Brett played a couple of seasons in the WHL before retiring.)
Playing junior hockey is just one adjustment for the younger Martyniuk. He’s also had to adjust from coming from the capital of Manitoba to the heart of the Parkland – not always an easy transition but one he’s enjoyed making.
“The experience has been good for me, to see what it’s like living in a small community where everyone knows everybody, as opposed to Winnipeg where you only really know people from a certain area,” he said. “And the arena is really nice – the staff treat us really well, and it’s an honour for us to play there.”
Martyniuk now says it’s time to prepare for the playoff run, and he figures the Kings can make some noise this year.
“Lately every game seems like a playoff game,” he said. “And when we put the finishing touches (on this team) we’ll be tough to beat.”