KEARNEY, Neb. – Storm defenseman Cutler Martin decided to make it easy on his family and friends, choosing to stay in his home state of Michigan and play college hockey as a member of the University of Michigan Wolverines in the fall of 2014.
Martin said there was no hesitation once he was offered a spot on the team.
“I knew that I really wanted to go to Michigan because I heard a lot of great things about it and historically they have a great hockey program,” Martin said. “Academically, the school is regarded as one of the best in the country and everything about it seemed to suit me.”
Although he grew up in East Lansing, where Big Ten rival Michigan State is situated, Martin said he doesn’t consider himself a traitor to his hometown school.
“I don’t feel like I’m a traitor at all,” Martin said. “I feel like I made the best decision for me and this was the right fit. Nothing against MSU, but I wanted to be a Wolverine and I’m excited to be a Wolverine.”
The 18-year-old is also excited to stay close to home with his family.
“My family feels very fortunate that I am going to be close to home after being out in Kearney about 14 hours away,” Martin said. “It will be good to be able to see my family on holidays. That wasn’t the deciding factor but it’s definitely a bonus.”
After adapting to a new league in the USHL, Martin contributed on the offensive end, scoring four goals and assisting on 12 others. He plans on returning to play with the Storm next season.
Storm head coach and general manager Josh Hauge said he expects Martin to have another productive season in Kearney before stepping in and playing right away for the Wolverines.
“Michigan is an elite program and to have a player like Cutler going there who will hopefully be able to step in and play right away is huge for us,” Hauge said. “I think it says a lot about how much work he put in because it’s an elite school and an elite hockey program.”
Hauge also spoke of Martin’s defensive attributes, saying he’ll fit in with the Wolverine style of play.
“I think he’s a strong, steady and powerful defenseman,” Hauge said. “He can move pucks and keep the game simple, but at the same time he’s got nastiness to him and can be really hard to play against in front of the net.”
Martin also said he is excited about being part of the newly formed Big Ten hockey conference, which gets underway next season.
“I think the Big Ten is going to be awesome,” Martin said. “I think a lot of rivalries will emerge again because you play each team four times a year.”
But the defenseman isn’t looking past the upcoming season with the Storm, which will be his second with Tri-City. With training camp on the horizon, he knows there is still work to be done in Kearney.
“I’m really looking forward to coming out to camp and playing for the Storm again next season,” Martin said. “We’re all working hard to make sure that next year we’re better than we were last year so we can come to Kearney and win a championship.”
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)