Martyniuk uses calm demeanor to establish role as starter for Syracuse

first_imgSome athletes like to listen to high-energy, pump-up music before games, but Larissa Martyniuk prefers country.Instead of pursuing a rush of adrenaline, she tries to relax before she takes the ice.“That’s kind of why I’m so composed,” Martyniuk said. “I’m just more relaxed, I guess.”On the ice, Martyniuk is known for her calm playing style. In a season of ups and downs for Syracuse, Martyniuk’s consistency has earned her a starting spot on defense in five of the last six games. In those six games, she’s also blocked 11 shots and earned time on the penalty unit.“She’s been very steady and consistent,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “… She’s not a flashy type player, but she’s just steady … Typically you want to get off to a good start in games so you start your defensemen that have shown they’ve been consistent, dependable.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMartyniuk has a laid-back and mellow personality, which, parallels her play on the ice, forward Melissa Piacentini said.Since the team’s return to action after a month-long winter break, Flanagan and assistant coach Alison Domenico have rewarded Martyniuk with a starting spot over senior defender Kaillie Goodnough.In return, Martyniuk posted three straight games with three blocked shots, which has been critical for a team that’s been on the penalty kill 24 times in the last four contests.“She’s anticipating not only where the shots are coming from but she positions herself well and does a good job,” Flanagan said.She gets her body in front of it, he says, and Martyniuk argues it’s just instincts. She doesn’t even think about it.In Syracuse’s overtime loss to Rochester Institute of Technology on Friday, Martyniuk stopped a centering pass that came from behind Syracuse’s net, and then got in front of a shot that came from near the circle.  Eventually, she collected the puck and passed it down the ice to Piacentini to give her a one-on-one opportunity.“I love having her on our team because she is so consistent,” Piacentini said. “You can rely on her almost every single game. … She makes smart plays because she does have that patience.”Her patience is much improved since last year, Flanagan said, and he is most impressed with the maturity that the sophomore shows on the ice.Martyniuk has only committed seven penalties all season, compared to 18 for Goodnough and 15 for defender Nicole Renault.One thing Flanagan notes is that Martyniuk always plays with her head up, something younger players often struggle to do.“We marvel at any picture of Marty that the photographers have taken,” Flanagan said. “She’s always got her head up and that actually is sort of a description of the way she plays.”Playing with her head up allows Martyniuk to move the puck out of the Orange’s defensive zone and make good passes from the point on offense, though she only has five assists to show for it.But even though Martyniuk has played well, Syracuse has won just once since the start of January. Her individual consistency is something that Flanagan has been searching for out of his team this entire season.Her composure on the blue line goes back to when she was playing hockey at 12 years old. Her coach at the time emphasized patience and never forcing any shots or passes and now seven years later, it’s the staple of the way Martyniuk plays.“She’s someone that doesn’t play with a ton of flair,” Flanagan said, “but she’s just effective and that’s what you want in your defenseman.” Comments Published on January 27, 2015 at 12:05 am Contact Jon: [email protected] | @jmettus Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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