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Martins, Butler: Two Seniors, Two Teams, Two Leaders

Through Thick and Thin, Martins Keeps on Scoring Goals

By Jonathan Finer

Senior Steve Martins sums up his 1994-1995 hockey season in an interesting way:

"It was dismal....No, I won't say dismal but it was a very frustrating year."

Pretty high standards, even for a guy who is The Crimson's 1994-95 Male Athlete of the Year.

Indeed, almost anyone else would be thrilled to lead Harvard in goals (15), assists (21) and points (36), while earning Honorable Mention All-ECAC honors.

But Steve Martins isn't just anyone. For him, 1994-1995 did not live up to expectations. The team's tough campaign and first-round ECAC playoff loss darken any individual success he might have.

"We really struggled at times this season," he says. "I expected more based on last year."

In 1993-94, Martins tore up the college hockey world, tallying 60 points (12th best in Harvard history), making the NCAA Final Four and ending the year as a first team All-American.

"Last year was definitely the high light of my career," Martins says. "It was a thrill from the team perspective, and individually everything seemed to work out well."

With all of Martins's success, many people don't realize that were it not for a last minute decision before his junior year in high school, we might never have heard of Steve Martins.

"I was very close to playing juniors that year and skipping college hockey." He says. "At the last minute, I was accepted at Choate and I decided to go. I was lucky I did."

So was Choate.

And so was Harvard, Had Martins not attended the Connecticut prep school, he would have never considered coming to Harvard.

"Believe it or not, I didn't know that Harvard had a team," Martins says. "All of the tradition meant very little to me at that point."

After a standout prep school career, Martins was recruited by most ECAC colleges, but narrowed his choices to four--Dartmouth, Brown, Princeton and Harvard.

Part of his motivation for coming to Harvard came from a representative of ECAC rival Vermont.

"Toward the end of the year the UVM coach called and offered me a scholarship." Martins says. "He said that I wouldn't be able to play right away at Harvard because they always recruit such good players."

In his freshman season, however, Martins not only made the team, but he also proved to be the most successful player of an outstanding recruiting class. He was honored as Harvard's top outstanding freshman and named to the ECAC All-Rookie team.

"That year we surprised a lot of people by winning the ECAC regular season title," Martins says. "We had some great players--Ted Donato ['91] and PeterCiavaglia ['91]--and we had four or five freshmenthat contributed."

The next season proved to be bittersweet forMartins. He had the opportunity to be on a teamwith Ted Drury--two-time Olympian, 1992-93 Harvardhockey captain and current Hartford Whaler.Unfortunately, Martins was injured and played just18 games.

"I got hurt the first day of practice," Martinssays. "But playing with Drury was great. He was agreat example for us."

All of this set the stage for what was the mostsuccessful Harvard hockey season since its 1989national Championship campaign.

The 1993-94 team had it all: dynamite offense,stonewall defense and a tandem of stellargoaltenders. Were it not for a few unlucky bouncesin the semi-final game against eventual nationalchampion Lake Superior State, Harvard would havefound itself playing for the national championshipfor the second time in five years.

The 1994-1995 season was a different story.

"We never got off to a good start." Martinssays. "We had a lot of returning players, but manyof them were inexperienced, which put a lot ofpressure on the freshmen. We had no real winningstreaks."

Martins shouldered the brunt of the burden. Hewas constantly shadowed by one--sometimes two--ofthe other teams' top defensive forwards. He wasslashed and hooked and speared. He frequentlyfought back, spending a team-high 87 minutes inthe penalty box.

"I definitely got frustrated, and it shows inmy penalty minutes," Martins says. "But I willhave to get used to that if I want to play at thenext level."

Nevertheless, Martins was the undisputed starof the Harvard team and almost singlehandedly ledit to victory on several occasions.

Martins ends his Harvard career as the school's14th all-time leading scorer with 139 points. Heleaves with many fond memories.

"I loved playing with Ted Drury--he was a realinspirational leader," Martins say. "Also, SeanMcCann ['94] sticks out in my mind. But I willalways remember my classmates."

Martins believes that he is leaving Harvardwith very good prospects for the future.

"Harvard has always been successful, and theywill be again soon," he says. 'We have goodfreshmen comming in, and [captain-elect] BradKonik, Jason Karmanos, Kirk Nielsen and TommyHolmes should really light it up."

Still, the loss of Martins will hurt. Heshouldered much--too much--of the offensive loadand will be difficult to replace.

But fear not Harvard hockey fans. AlthoughMartins will definitely not be wearing Crimson,you may not have to leave New England to see hisfuture games. Martins is currently in the midst ofcontract negotiations with the Hartford Whalers,the NHL team for whom Drury plays.

"I am not sure yet if the Whalers will offer mea contract," Martins says. "They may be reluctantbecause of my off-year and because of my size."

At five-nine, Martins would be one of thesmallest players in the NHL. However, beingvertically challenged has never held him backbefore.

"At almost every level people have told me thatI am too small to be a star," Martins says. "I useit to motivate me. It has never hurt me too muchin the past."

Yet another understatement from a man who wouldprefer his actions to speak louder than his words.He may or may not make it to the NHL, but as theVermont coach learned five years ago, it is seldomprofitable to bet against Steve Martins.CrimsonE. Houston WuSenior STEVE MARTINS waits for the pass.

The next season proved to be bittersweet forMartins. He had the opportunity to be on a teamwith Ted Drury--two-time Olympian, 1992-93 Harvardhockey captain and current Hartford Whaler.Unfortunately, Martins was injured and played just18 games.

"I got hurt the first day of practice," Martinssays. "But playing with Drury was great. He was agreat example for us."

All of this set the stage for what was the mostsuccessful Harvard hockey season since its 1989national Championship campaign.

The 1993-94 team had it all: dynamite offense,stonewall defense and a tandem of stellargoaltenders. Were it not for a few unlucky bouncesin the semi-final game against eventual nationalchampion Lake Superior State, Harvard would havefound itself playing for the national championshipfor the second time in five years.

The 1994-1995 season was a different story.

"We never got off to a good start." Martinssays. "We had a lot of returning players, but manyof them were inexperienced, which put a lot ofpressure on the freshmen. We had no real winningstreaks."

Martins shouldered the brunt of the burden. Hewas constantly shadowed by one--sometimes two--ofthe other teams' top defensive forwards. He wasslashed and hooked and speared. He frequentlyfought back, spending a team-high 87 minutes inthe penalty box.

"I definitely got frustrated, and it shows inmy penalty minutes," Martins says. "But I willhave to get used to that if I want to play at thenext level."

Nevertheless, Martins was the undisputed starof the Harvard team and almost singlehandedly ledit to victory on several occasions.

Martins ends his Harvard career as the school's14th all-time leading scorer with 139 points. Heleaves with many fond memories.

"I loved playing with Ted Drury--he was a realinspirational leader," Martins say. "Also, SeanMcCann ['94] sticks out in my mind. But I willalways remember my classmates."

Martins believes that he is leaving Harvardwith very good prospects for the future.

"Harvard has always been successful, and theywill be again soon," he says. 'We have goodfreshmen comming in, and [captain-elect] BradKonik, Jason Karmanos, Kirk Nielsen and TommyHolmes should really light it up."

Still, the loss of Martins will hurt. Heshouldered much--too much--of the offensive loadand will be difficult to replace.

But fear not Harvard hockey fans. AlthoughMartins will definitely not be wearing Crimson,you may not have to leave New England to see hisfuture games. Martins is currently in the midst ofcontract negotiations with the Hartford Whalers,the NHL team for whom Drury plays.

"I am not sure yet if the Whalers will offer mea contract," Martins says. "They may be reluctantbecause of my off-year and because of my size."

At five-nine, Martins would be one of thesmallest players in the NHL. However, beingvertically challenged has never held him backbefore.

"At almost every level people have told me thatI am too small to be a star," Martins says. "I useit to motivate me. It has never hurt me too muchin the past."

Yet another understatement from a man who wouldprefer his actions to speak louder than his words.He may or may not make it to the NHL, but as theVermont coach learned five years ago, it is seldomprofitable to bet against Steve Martins.CrimsonE. Houston WuSenior STEVE MARTINS waits for the pass.

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