While Olympic hockey is a bonanza for most hockey fans, the winter shutdown of the National Hockey Leagues leaves many players not selected to represent their countries with little to do but to rest and recover for the remainder of the season. That leaves the American Hockey League as the best game in town, and on Sunday, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers plan on capitalizing on that when they invite the popular Matt Martin back to the Park City for Matt Martin Bobblehead Giveaway Day.
A fifth-round selection by the Islanders—the Sound Tigers' parent club—in 2008 (No. 148 overall), Martin played junior hockey for three seasons with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League before joining the Sound Tigers in 2009-10, his one full season in Bridgeport. That season, the 6-3, 206-lb. left wing scored 31 points with 12 goals in 19 assists in 76 games. Then, after starting the 2010-11 campaign with the Sound Tigers, he was called up to the Islanders after seven games in Bridgeport. He has been with the big club ever since.
An important cog in the Islanders' building process, Martin has developed a reputation as a bruising third- or fourth-line forward. He played in all six of the Islanders' Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. The Windsor native also appeared in all 48 games for the Isles during the strike-shortened 2012-13 season.
On Sunday, the Sound Tigers will host the Providence Bruins at the Webster Bank Arena, and the first 2,000 fans through the turnstiles will receive a bobblehead replication of Martin. In addition, the former fan favorite will be on hand for autographs immediately following the game.
The Sound Tigers are currently in third place in the AHL's Northeast Division with a 22-24-1-4 record for 41 points, 13 points behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. They are one of the hottest teams in the AHL, however, with a 8-2-0-0 record over their past 10 games.
First puck drops at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Webster Bank Arena.