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Robert Martinez is Honored to Lead a Team He Calls Home

by Samantha Impaglia

Transferring sophomore year from Nicols College to Montclair State University was not what Robert Martinez was initially excited about. Many years later it turns out this would be one of the best decision’s he has ever made.

Robert Martinez is currently head coach the Montclair State men’s ice hockey team, and would not it want it any other way.

Going from the Division III level at the Dudley, Massachusetts college to Division II club ice hockey at Montclair State, Robert Martinez anticipated the ice hockey to be much different. It turns out he could not help but fall in love with the Red Hawk community, and soon realized this is where he wanted to be.

“Coming to Montclair State was actually a happy accident,” Robert Martinez said. “At first I didn’t take to the transition too well, and then I fell in love with the school from day one. The experience was as good, if not better, than my experience at Nichols.”

Martinez playing goaltender for Nichols college, where he was for two years.
Photo courtesy of Robert Martinez

This has been quite the season for Robert Martinez and his team. Although the season did not start out on the right foot, due to finding it hard to secure wins and being short of their starting goaltender Danny Porth, Robert Martinez kept the team doing their best.

Porth eventually came back and the Red Hawks pulled it together just in time to go on a three-game winning streak and secure a playoff spot for the first time in two full years.

“In a sense I think it’s kind of poetic, the way this season has gone,” Robert Martinez said. “We had very high expectations coming in and the underlying team goal in training camp that was established by both players and coaching staff was to make the playoffs.”

Martinez took his team to Washington D.C. for training camp this year.
Photo courtesy of @porthchop on Instagram

Robert Martinez believes the team came together just at the right time, right when no one expected. He explained that many teams have seen success all season, and that gave them an advantage as the Red Hawks were at their highest point come playoffs.

“I really believe and firmly believe that we belong,” Robert Martinez said. “The team believes it too.”

Robert Martinez’s life has always involved ice hockey, but he did not actually start playing until about 13 years old. His inspiration to play came from family members who were already involved in the sport.

Robert Martinez (left) with his brother Victor Martinez (right).
Photo courtesy of Robert Martinez

“I got into this sport really because of my brother,” Robert Martinez said. “He played at a very young age, and my uncle, my godfather actually, was a hockey player as well. So I played baseball most of my life growing up, but hockey was always in the family. It just took me a little bit longer to take to it.”

Speaking of family, Robert Martinez shares a special bond with his nephew Ryan Martinez, a current defenseman on the Red Hawks ice hockey team. From coaching him in youth hockey to now being his coach in college has been nothing but positive for the both of them.

“To have [Ryan Martinez] on the team is definitely fun to watch,” Robert Martinez said. “To see him in the uniform, there’s no better feeling.”

Ryan Martinez talked about the impact his uncle has left on him.

“He is definitely a role model for me,” Ryan Martinez said. “His work ethic and passion for the game has driven me to be where I am today. He will always be family, but our relationship has definitely evolved over time, especially knowing when I am his nephew and when he’s my coach. I will forever be thankful for everything he has done for me so far, and I am excited to see what the future holds during my time here [Montclair State] and on the hockey team.”

Martinez and assistant coach Frank Barone coaching the Red Hawks in playoffs on Feb. 21.
Kirk Coronacion | The Montclarion

Robert Martinez has been on the coaching staff since 2009, and head coach since 2011. He has coached alongside fellow Montclair State ice hockey hall of fame member Frank Barone for that entire time. The two are committed to making the Red Hawks the best they can be. The game time decision the two took to coach the team was definitely the right one in their eyes.

Martinez helped coach the 2011 Red Hawks team that qualified to go to nationals for the 2nd time in San Jose, California. Photo courtesy of Robert Martinez

Martinez helped coach the 2011 Red Hawks team that qualified to go to nationals for the 2nd time in San Jose, California.
Photo courtesy of Robert Martinez

“Right away I kind of knew this is where I wanted to be,” Robert Martinez said. “It’s somewhere I always dreamed of being as a player. It is a great honor to be the head coach of somewhere you played at, especially for a school or university that means so much to you. I’m here for as long as they’ll have me.”

Robert Martinez is an important figure when it comes to Montclair State ice hockey. Before even becoming a part of the coaching staff, he was inducted into the ice hockey hall of fame at Montclair State for his efforts as a goaltender.

Martinez played goaltender for the Red Hawks for two years.
Photo courtesy of Robert Martinez

“To be included in the hall of fame I would say is one of the greatest honors I could possibly get,” Robert Martinez said. “To be up there with the names that are up there is a pretty big deal to me, and I can’t speak enough about what it feels like to be on it.”

Although the team lost to Sacred Heart University in the first round of playoffs Friday, this season is considered a win to Robert Martinez and the team. An important stepping stone has been made, and Robert Martinez will continue working to bring the team back to where they once were.

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