At the raw age of 21, Andreas Martinsen has already suited up for Team Norway 60 times in international play. This past season he was a key player for his hometown team in Lillehammer, where he collected 20 goals and 48 points in 56 games. The 6-3, 220-pound forward isn’t afraid to throw his weight around either, as his 147 penalty minutes attests.
Several seasons ago, Andreas spent his only time abroad in a stint at Leksand in Sweden, where he played for their junior program, along with 22 games for the men’s team before heading back to Lillehammer before season’s end. Since then, he’s continued working on his game at back in Norway. For the second year in a row, Martinsen has helped Norway be the surprise of the World Championship tournament. Martinsen currently has three points (1G, 2A) in eight games while providing lots of rough and tough play and strong corner work.
After a big 6-2 victory against Italy, Hockey’s Future had a chance to catch up with the Norwegian bruiser.
Hockey’s Future: Another big game today and Norway is doing wonderfully at this tournament. How are you feeling about the team thus far?
Andreas Martinsen: Oh yeah, we’ve done great for a couple of years now, but I think we’ve even taken a bit of a step up over last year’s tourney. This was a huge game to win and we really needed three points today. So, we’re real happy with that.
HF: I bet you are. Now you’re just a young man, but you’ve already played 55 plus games for the national team. How has your role changed this season in comparison to the years before?
AM: The more games you play, the more confidence you get. My role in the team is just to play tough, leave it all on the ice and work hard for the team. I’m one of the bigger guys and I have to make use of my size.
HF: Even though you’ve been to a few tournaments now, is it still a special feeling for you to be out on the ice with the Zetterbergs and Malkins of the world?
AM: Oh yes, definitely. It’s always fun to compete and play against the best players in the world. And let’s face it; it’s not something you do every day.
HF: As you mentioned, you’re one of the bigger players in the team. Take a guy like 6’3”, 205-pound Anders Bastiansen who has been playing in Sweden for a few years now: He’s a big player who has been very good for Norway in international play in recent years. Is he the type of guy you keep an eye on and try to structure your game after?
AM: Yes, he’s a good player and a good role model for us younger guys. He’s big and strong and knows how to get and then maintain control of the puck. So of course he’s one who I can learn from. He’s just a really good, effective player.
HF: You just had 43 points in 45 regular season games back in Lillehammer. Was this your best pro season to date?
AM: I think I had pretty much the same amount of points the season before, but I was able to simply play better than I did last season. My game was more complete, so I think it’s fair to say that this was my best season yet.
HF: What did you improve on the most?
AM: Making smarter choices with the puck and simply displaying better puck control. Being more intelligent in the offensive zone. Those were things I got better at.
HF: What are your thoughts on perhaps heading to Sweden again to play your pro hockey like so many of your teammates here?
AM: Well, that would be fun. I mean, I was there already, but I’m much more mature now. I maybe went over too early or possibly to the wrong program for me, but I’m definitely more mature and ready for that kind of challenge now.
HF: So that’s definitely a door you’re leaving open in the future?
AM: Yes. If something right shows up, I’m ready for it.
HF: Do you have a contract for next season in place?
AM: No, I’m a free agent at the moment.
HF: If an NHL team were to invite you to their prospects camp, would you be ready to head over for that?
AM: Umm, yes, I’d go.
HF: You would head over this summer. So is it fair to say the NHL is still a dream of yours?
AM: Of course. You’ve got to set your goals high and reach for them.
HF: And you’re still young, so if you get the chance…
AM: … Then that’s what you’ve got to do. You have to give it the good old college try and I’d give even more than that if I knew there was any hope for the NHL at all.