Steinbachpistons.ca is continuing our series of Alumni Updates, where we check in with a past Pistons player from throughout the years to see where they are at in their lives.
This week, we were lucky enough to catch up with former defenceman Connor Martin. Martin signed with the Pistons just prior to the beginning of the 2014-15 season.
Before coming to the Pistons, the Owatonna, Minnesota native played for two seasons at the famed Shattuck St. Mary’s School in Faribault, MN. The school has produced the likes of famous NHL players such as Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, and Jonathan Toews to name a few. In 116 career games with Shattuck St. Mary’s at the 18U level, Martin produced 17 goals and 50 assists for 67 points.
During his time with the Pistons, he became known for his aggressive and physical style of play; often letting his play speak through thunderous hits towards many opponents.
Martin then came to Steinbach and played regularly during his rookie season as a 19-year-old, putting up 8 assists in 50 games for the blue and white to help the Pistons to a second-place finish in the regular season standings. In 9 postseason games, he picked up a goal and two assists as the team made their first of two straight MJHL finals appearances.
The next season, Martin suited up in 54 games for the Pistons and scored 2 goals while adding 11 assists. He was paired up the majority of the time with veteran defenceman Anthony Kapelke, making for a hard-hitting duo on the Steinbach defence that could change the energy of the TG Smith Centre with their physical play. Martin did lead the way for the Pistons with 106 PIMs in 2015-16.
He would go on to pot another goal plus two helpers in the 2016 playoffs, as Steinbach would go on to earn another trip to the Turnbull Cup championship series. But they couldn’t get over the hump as they would go on to lose that series 4-1 against the Portage Terriers.
Martin was also known for being heavily involved in the community, volunteering when and wherever he could. He spent time volunteering with Southwood Elementary School and Stonybrook Middle School over his two seasons (one each year), visiting twice a week to help students with their math, reading, and school subjects.
He assisted on the ice to coach local minor hockey practices, mentored a local hockey player, participated in many Pistons and MJHL initiatives in Steinbach, and also helped pump gas at local gas stations. This led to him being named the MJHL Peak Performer of the Month twice during his career, which celebrates a player’s work in the community.
After his Pistons career wrapped up, Martin headed to Wisconsin to play NCAA Division III hockey at Marian University. During two seasons with the Sabres’ Div. III squad from 2016-18 he put up one goal in 18 career games. He went down and joined Marian’s ACHA Div II team for his final two collegiate campaigns, captaining the team in his senior year in 2019-20. In 53 career games played, the hard-hitting defenceman was one of the leading offensive producers during that span for the Sabres, putting up 35 goals and 73 points in that span.
Martin will go down in Pistons history as a player who played with big-time heart, threw big hits, and made a big impact through his many hours of volunteer work.
Here is a Q & A with Connor:
Steinbachpistons.ca: What are you up to in life these days?
Connor Martin: I graduated from Marian University last spring and was fortunate enough to find a teacher job in the midst of a pandemic. So, my wife and I bought a house and moved to Menasha, Wisconsin. We also welcomed our first son Cliff on December 11th. I think it goes without saying that our lives have been full of home renovations, baby duties, and all of the things that go with starting a career!
SP: Do you still follow the team presently?
CM: I do still try to follow the team as much as possible. The great social media presence makes it easier on us alums who live back in the States! I was really bummed for the guys that looked like they were going to make another big push last year. It was also great to see the team make it to the RBC (Cup) a few years back.
SP: Do you still keep in touch with some of your former teammates? Who are some of your favorites?
CM: I actually don’t keep in too close of contact with too many guys. One of the more consistent guys has been James Shearer. Otherwise, I spent a bunch of time with guys like Tyler Penner, Quinton Lisoway, and Ryan Carlson.
SP: What was your favorite game/goal/play during your time with the Pistons?
CM: My favorite moment as a Piston was really the entire series against Winkler in the second round of the 2016 playoffs. We were the favorites but went down 3-1, and we ended up coming back and winning the series 4-3. Those crowds were some of the most fun games I’ve ever been a part of.
SP: Where was the toughest place to play in the MJHL over your career?
CM: Probably….Winkler. It always seemed like the Old Thunderdome would fill up when we were in town.
SP: You did a lot of volunteering in Steinbach over your tenure. Why was volunteering and spending time in the community so important to you?
CM: I was fortunate to be able to get involved so much in the community while I was there. The biggest thing for me was just to be able to see the impact the Pistons have on the community members there. Everyone was always so excited to see us around town, so I just wanted to play my part in giving back in whatever capacity possible. I also wanted to do everything possible to immerse myself in the community.
SP: How did your time with the Pistons help you to where you are today?
CM: The most significant way my time with the Pistons has helped me to where I am now is that I was introduced to some guys through the team, who then introduced me to the idea of accepting a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This has profoundly changed me, and the Pistons Chapel program (led by chaplain Mike Kehler) was vital to that exposure.
That time will forever be one of the most significant times of my life. Without everyone in the Pistons organization from Paul, Rob (former Pistons assistant coach), Graham, to the amazing volunteers, or billet families like the Hartungs, Loeppkys, and Penners all sacrificing their time with family so us kids could pursue a dream, my life would be significantly different.
All of the people mentioned and more played huge roles in shaping me into the man I am today. I am forever grateful.