This Q&A ran in the Buckeye gameday program for the game vs. Miami Dec. 11
Freshman defenseman Brandon Martell has grown up around successful hockey players. Hailing from Elk River, Minn., Martell shares a hometown with NHL players Joel Otto, Dan Hinote and Paul Martin. The Minnesotan doesn’t need to live off their success, though, making quite a splash last year with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the North American Hockey League. His accomplishments include finishing with 18 points, a +10 plus/minus and participating in the NAHL All-Star Tournament. The talented freshman looks to continue his success at the collegiate level with the Buckeyes.
You come from a town that has produced multiple NHL players. Is there something in the water up there?
“I don’t know if there’s something in the water – I hope there’s something in the water. Our coach at Elk River has been up there a long time. He gets the most out of players all the time. He demands hard work and it shows. Players make it to the next level and improve and continuously get better. It’s a hockey community. The school is hockey all the time. It shows in the end I guess.”
Do you see yourself as next in the great line of players from Elk River?
“I hope so. Some buddies of mine have played at the college level. I would love to be the next one with a banner hanging at the rink with a pro picture on it. It would be unreal, definitely a dream of mine. I’m close; I’ve made it to the next level. There’s still long way to go though. I hope to get there one day.”
What led to your decision to come to Ohio State?
“Ohio State has unbelievable tradition. When I first spoke to the coaching staff, they seemed like they had their ducks in a row and had everything together. They’re doing a great job bringing the program up and making the NCAA tournament last year. But really, it’s just the school in general. There’s a reason they call it THE Ohio State University. There’s not a school like it anywhere else.”
You played with fellow Buckeye Paul Kirtland in Fairbanks last season. Did you both conspire to end up here together?
“Actually, yes, I committed here a couple months before he did. The coaches asked about him, and I kept putting a bug in his ear for Ohio State. It just kind of worked out from there. The coaches here wanted another forward and there he was.”
Are there any players in particular you have been learning the most from since coming here?
“I’ve learned a little bit from everybody here. I’ve had the privilege of rooming with (Zac) Dalpe on the road a couple times. With him being a captain, and one of the leaders, just hearing what he has to say about things has really helped me out. The entire defense, too. Corey Toy has helped out a bunch. Everyone says freshman year is the toughest. But the guys are there to help pull you through and let you know they’ve all been there.”
How would you describe your playing style? As a defenseman, do you ever get an itch to score a goal?
“I would have to say I’m a stay at home defenseman. I definitely like to bring a physical presence and a big shot from the blue line. I try to worry about playing defense in our own zone first. Everyone loves to score and get the glory, but there have to be people in the back to do the gritty stuff in the zone. “
What’s the ultimate thrill for a defenseman?
“Winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in college hockey would be pretty special. Otherwise, playing in the NHL and winning the James Norris Memorial Trophy (top defensive player) would be amazing, too. Just being recognized as the best player at your position would be the ultimate goal as a defenseman.”