Martin still scoring in Stavanger

Joey Martin has enjoyed a good start to the season in Norway with Stavanger Oilers (PHOTO: Dagsavisen)

Joey Martin says he feels fortunate to be able to play this season after the suspension of the Elite League as he enjoys life in Norway.

The Cardiff Devils legend joined Stavanger Oilers a few weeks ago as the situation regarding the viability of a new campaign became further and further in doubt.

And the 32-year-old spoke of how he’s adapting with the Fjordkraft-ligaen side, seven games into their campaign which sees the Oilers in second bottom of 10 teams following a season where they were streets ahead in the regular campaign standings.

“I’m feeling fortunate to have this opportunity where we’re seeing leagues postponed and not playing, so it is a tough time for hockey players in general,” Martin said.

“I was talking to a lot of guys I know who play overseas and they were already practising with their teams, but nothing much was happening in the UK.  The rinks weren’t even open so I started to get a feeling that something might be happening. Or not happening rather.

“I was optimistic at the beginning of the summer, but as time went on, I began to realise there was a distinct possibility we might not play or not start until early next year.

“I just felt that was a long time to wait so I quickly made a decision to hire and agent and get my name out there.  The chance to come to Stavanger happened quickly.  It wasn’t an easy decision with the uncertainty, but I have to thank Todd Kelman for his assistance and honesty.

“It’s been great so far over here, even if the form hasn’t been so good for us.  We have a really good group of guys with a lot of talent.  We’ve underachieved, but we’re confident of turning it around.

“I find myself adapting quite nicely where the style of hockey is quite different.  It’s taken me a bit to get used to it, but I’m enjoying it so far.

“It’s a fast league here.  A bit younger in terms of the players flying up and down the ice and you don’t get as much time on the puck.  That’s been different to get used to, but the hockey’s fun, very offensive and I hope to keep producing this year.”

Martin has seven points from his seven outings so far, scoring four and assisting in three as Stavanger look improve on a run that has saw them lost four of their last five, including Tuesday’s 7-2 defeat to Stjernan.

They take on second place Frisk Asker on Saturday, a team they beat in all five meetings last season and once more, Martin will be looking to add to his tally.

His heart remains in Cardiff after committing to return next year, all going well and admits he’s had conversations with the new coach, Jarrod Skalde and kept tabs on his team-mates who also made the move into Europe.

“Covid disrupted my plans to return to Cardiff of course and I’m really sad the whole has been suspended for this season,” he added. “I feel bad for everyone involved and in my six years, I saw it improve every year.

Joey Martin as Cardiff fans usually recognise him (PHOTO: James Assinder/Cardiff Devils)

“The product and depth continued to grow and I’m really hoping it doesn’t affect things next year, but I have been given the opportunity to play elsewhere and I’m embracing it as much as I can.

“I’ve spoken with the new coach in the interview process and he came across as a great guy, very confident and has a great resume so it was exciting for Cardiff to bring in a guy like that.

“In fact, he called me a couple of weeks ago to touch base and see how I was getting on and update me on what he was doing.  We didn’t discuss next year or anything like that, but I appreciated him reaching out.

“He’s the same as everyone.  Basically, waiting to see what happens and hopefully start to get plans in place for a start next year.

“I’m closely watching how some of the other guys are getting on elsewhere and it was really unfortunate what happened with ‘Bownsy’ in Austria with his injury.  I know how hard he worked to earn that move.

“But the other guys I think are the same as me, taking this year as a new experience and you have to embrace it.  It wasn’t what we all planned for, but sometimes you’re led down a path and you simply have to make the most of it.”

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