ECHL Report: Patience a virtue with Martenet, Desrosiers feeling confident with Steelheads

ALLEN, Texas — When it comes to prospects it’s important to practice patience and manage expectations.

That’s especially true in the case of Chris Martenet.

First, Martenet fits the mold of the the old — and often true — adage that big defenders take longer to develop. On top of that, the 6-foot-7 defender missed all of NHL and AHL training camp with mononucleosis, forcing him to play catch-up before starting the season with the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL.

So, it was important to keep that in mind while watching Martenet play in the Steelheads 5-4 shootout win against the Allen Americans on Saturday.

“He’s been growing weekly,” Steelheads coach Neil Graham said. “And you don’t expect as guy as a 20-year-old to take massive steps in the first month, I think that’s unrealistic and I think it’s important for him to realize that it is a process. And I think he’s done a terrific job.”

Because out outside circumstances it was an odd game for Martenet. The Steelheads dressed seven defenders, and there were 18 combined power plays for the Steelheads and Americans, effectively killing any normal flow to the game.

Despite that, Martenet said it was another game where he’s focussing on the little things. He’s not asked to overcomplicate his game, and positionally he’s still adjusting to the speed and pace of professional hockey.

“So far it’s good,” Martenet said. “Learning a lot, taking a lot in and going day-by-day, so it’s good so far.”

While it’s still early, Graham sees a lot of potential in the 2015 fourth-round pick.

“Obviously his size stands out, not many guys have that frame,” Graham said. “But I think his ability to make plays with that size and get up ice and use his mobility is what can separate him from the rest … he’s gonna have to continue to get that physical side to his game. He doesn’t have to go out and fight, but he needs to be a presence. When you are that big and have that huge reach, you’ve got to make it tough on opponents entering the zone.”

Desrosiers dedicated to the process

Stars goalie prospect Philippe Desrosiers made 29 saves for Idaho on Saturday and didn’t allow a goal in the shootout, improving to 5-1-2 this season.

Desrosiers has taken the right attitude into his ECHL assignment. Instead of moping or being disappointed about losing out to Landon Bow for the AHL back-up role, he’s embraced an opportunity to be starting goalie for the Steelheads.

“Overall I’m playing pretty good. I’m seeing a lot of minutes and I have the confidence from (the coaches), so I’m pretty happy,” Desrosiers said. “Coming here it’s not a bad thing. They told me up there that Mike McKenna would be the goalie No. 1, so for a young goalie it’s important to get some minutes. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the first month and I’m trying to do my best and waiting for a call.”

While Desrosiers allowed four goals on Saturday he didn’t have much help. Two of the goals came during 5-on-3s for Allen, while another goal came right as a power play was expiring. The fourth goal frustrated Desrosiers because he believe he had held the puck long enough to force a whistle, but the goal still counted when the rebound was jammed into the net.

Desrosiers has a bit of a difficult hurdle to get back to the AHL, especially with the Bow playing well recently for the Texas Stars, but he does look more fundamentally sound and he’s matured greatly over the past two seasons.

Other notes:

— Typically the Steelheads’ game in Allen are well attended by the Dallas Stars management group, that wasn’t the case on Saturday. With the Texas Stars playing at home on Saturday several members of the management group opted to watch the AHL team instead.

— Jeremy Brodeur was a free agent invitee and played for the Dallas Stars prospect team in Traverse City back in September. Brodeur turned that showing in Traverse City into a professional opportunity with Allen has established himself as a reliable ECHL goalie for the Americans. He made 32 saves on Saturday and is now 1-1-2 in five games with Allen.

— It was a bit of an oddity to see a game with 44 penalty minutes and 18 total power plays in the ECHL and not have any fights. There were a couple hits behind the play by both teams, perhaps the most egregious by Allen’s Mike Gunn, but each time resulted in minor scrums and roughing penalties.

— The Allen Event Center is a nice venue, almost the exactly the same setup as the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park. Only major differences are the lack of a center-hung scoreboard and the fact the press box is on the suite level instead of the on it’s own level.

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