THE SARNIA CONNECTION

Newly drafted Sting linemates Matt Martin and Justin DiBenedetto join the Islanders ranks after a successful season on a line with No. 1 overall draft pick Steven Stamkos

Monday, 06.23.2008 / 10:14 AM ET / News
By Jason Lockhart  - Website/Publications Coordinator
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THE SARNIA CONNECTION

While the Islanders may not have drafted first overall pick Steven Stamkos, they did manage to draft his two Sarnia Sting linemates. Forwards Matt Martin (selected in the 5th round, 148th overall) and Justin DiBenedetto (6th round, 175th overall) flanked Stamkos during the 2007-08 season.

Matt Martin
As one of the top trios in the entire OHL, the Stamkos-DiBenedetto-Martin line possessed a host of talent, but in different areas of the game. Stamkos played the role of finisher, DiBenedetto the set-up man and Martin the forechecker.

Martin, who hails from Windsor, Ontario joined Stamkos and DiBendetto on a line in 2007-08, bringing his aggressive style of play to an already potent duo. Martin brought his physical presence to help open up the game for his two linemates.

"I love how Matt plays the game," said Islanders OHL area scout Tim MacLean at the draft. "He's a big, physical force, who hits really hard. Matt is a guy who forechecks hard and forces turnovers due to his physical play. He's someone who sticks up for his teammates and is willing to drop the gloves. But he also has an offensive upside."

Martin finished the 2007-08 season tied for third on Sarnia with 25 goals, upping his total from three in his rookie season in 2006-07.

"I would describe myself as a power forward," said Martin. "I don't mind throwing the body around and like to be the first one on the forecheck. I play the grinder role on my line. I had a good season with linemates this year. It was an honor to play with them."
 
After not being drafted in his first year of eligibility, instead of taking it personally and feeling sorry for himself, DiBenedetto went out in 2007-08 and put up impeccable numbers while playing with Stamkos and Martin. The Etobicoke, Ontario-native registered 39 goals and 54 assists, good for 93 points in 58 games. His point total placed him 11th in the OHL.

"Justin is very skilled," said MacLean. "He put up a lot of points and that wasn't just from feeding off Stamkos. Justin likes to go in the dirty areas. He has a good shot and is a finisher. He knows how to get to the open ice and developed good chemistry with his linemates."

While some might consider it a risk drafting an older player, DiBenedetto has a lot of potential. Even in 2006-07, when DiBendetto scored 30 fewer points, he accumulated a team-high +21 rating, exemplifying his defensive awareness.

"Ever since I began playing with (Stamkos) last year we had great chemistry," said DiBenedetto. "I just try to get open for him. He's a great player and if you're open, he'll get you the puck. Matt's a good guy to have on the line because he opens up the ice for you."

Neither Martin nor DiBenedetto were at the draft, but they found out soon after being drafted they were members of the Islanders organization. DiBendetto first found out via a text message from Stamkos. Martin spoke earlier with Stamkos and received a call from fellow Islanders prospect and Sarnia defenseman Mark Katic, who congratulated him on becoming an Islander.

Justin DiBenedetto
With three Sarnia Sting players as members of the Islanders organization and the two newest already set to travel to Long Island in July for the annual mini-camp, the two newest members are undoubtedly feeling more comfortable knowing they'll see a couple of familiar faces.

"I am very good friends with Katic and Justin," said Martin. "We have very good chemistry on and off the ice. It'll be nice to head back to Sarnia for the season and be able to share some stories from camp."

As for Stamkos, who picked up Islanders hats and jerseys at the Draft to bring back for his teammates, he won't be joining his three Sting brethren having been selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but that won't change their relationship.

"He's a great personality off the ice," said Martin. "I wish him all the best."

Added DiBenedetto, "I'll be rooting for him, but if we ever meet in a pro game, I'll have to drop the mitts with him."


CLICK HERE FOR THE ISLANDERS DRAFT CENTRAL 2008



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 76 34 40 -3 74
R. Strome 75 15 32 19 47
K. Okposo 54 15 31 -10 46
F. Nielsen 75 13 28 9 41
B. Nelson 76 18 22 9 40
A. Lee 70 23 16 12 39
J. Bailey 64 15 23 4 38
J. Boychuk 66 8 25 9 33
T. Hamonic 66 5 25 16 30
N. Leddy 72 10 19 15 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 35 16 2 .915 2.39
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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