With the final pick in the first round of the 2017 NLL Draft, the Roughnecks surprised quite a few people.
Including the player they selected.
“I was not expecting to be a first-round draft pick,” said left-handed forward Ryan Martel.
“I’m really happy about it. I had a few texts with General Manager Mike Board, but I still didn’t think I would go first round. So, this is a great surprise.”
The 19-year old phenom renounced his college eligibility and declared early for the draft.
“I knew I wasn’t going to school and I thought that I had a good year in junior, so I thought I would throw my name into the draft and see what happens,” explained Martel. “Like I said, I definitely wasn’t expecting a first-round pick, but I’m very excited, a little shocked and it’s still kind of sinking in.”
When the commissioner announced the 11th-overall pick, it fulfilled a life-long goal of the youngster.
Staying out West and close to his home town of Aldergrove, B..C, was an added bonus for Martel and his family.
“I’m very excited to come to Calgary,” he said.
“It’s been a goal of mine, well, really a dream of mine since I started playing lacrosse. With Calgary being close to home, we’re really happy about this.”
In his first year with the Langley Jr. Thunder of the BCJALL, Martel was second in the league in goals with 43, third in assists with 54, and second in total points, trailing only Connor Robinson of the New Westminster Jr. Salmonbellies. Martel added an impressive extra seven points (5g, 2a) in seven games when he was called up to the Langley Sr. Thunder of the WLA.
While he can shoot the ball, dish it to his teammates, and do lots of things on the floor, Martel believes that his best asset is his ability to play down low and get to the front of the net.
“I think my inside game is where I stand out,” said Martel. “If I have a one-on-one look with the goalie, I think that I can put the ball in the net more often than not. I think setting picks will be a big part of my game this year, getting guys open, and passing. So inside game, mostly.”
That skill set is reminiscent of one of his new teammates, Dane Dobbie.
Being of small stature (5-foot-9, 190 lbs) and playing with a similar style, Martel has looked up to the Roughnecks dynamo for years.
“I’ve watched Dane Dobbie forever,” he said. “I like his style. He’s my size and I’ve watched that — he’s a really heads up player and he knows what he’s doing, so I’m going to be a sponge this first year and take in as much as I can from him. It’ll be a good year.”
Coming into training camp in November, Martel will have some familiar faces with him in Thunder teammates and Roughnecks draft choices Anthony Kalinich and Mitch McDole.
He’s also on good terms with former junior foe and current Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco.
“I know a few guys on the team,” Martel said. “I play against Del Bianco in junior. I’ve been chatting with him a bit and he’s been walking me through some things. I’m excited to play with him this year.”
He’s even found some twine on the extremely talented netminder.
“Earlier this year, I had a penalty shot against him and I scored. I’m not sure how he feels about that one,” joked Martel.