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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 / 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 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 63 29 35 4 64
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 63 14 26 21 40
B. Nelson 63 17 19 6 36
F. Nielsen 63 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 57 20 12 12 32
J. Bailey 51 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 53 7 22 15 29
N. Leddy 63 8 17 14 25
T. Hamonic 53 4 20 16 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 7 1 .890 2.95

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