CEDAR RAPIDS — The congratulatory text has been sent. It’s likely one of many Alec Martinez has received in the 24 hours since he won the Stanley Cup for the Los Angeles Kings.
“We’ve texted back and forth over the years,” said Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Coach/General Manager Mark Carlson. “Just wanted to congratulate him and let him know we’re proud of him. That the whole community of Cedar Rapids is proud of him and what he has accomplished.”
Martinez, a former RoughRiders defenseman, scooped in a rebound to cap off a 3-on-2 rush late in the second overtime as the Kings beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, Friday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. L.A. won the series, 4-1, to capture its second Cup in three years.
“After it went in, I think I blacked out,” Martinez told media after the game. “I’m just so happy for these guys.”
And there are a lot of people around here so happy for him. Martinez played for the RoughRiders on their 2004-05 Clark Cup championship team, played three college seasons at Miami (Ohio) and then turned pro.
This was his fourth season in the NHL (all with the Kings), and he collected a career-high 11 goals in the regular season. The 26-year-old played in all 26 Los Angeles playoff games, too, scoring five times, including the Game 7 overtime winner against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals.
Then there was that little bitty one he had Friday.
“I remember all of our staff thought right away that he was going to be a very, very good player,” Carlson said. “We thought that from the first time we scouted him ... We thought he was a really special player and a really special person. He has worked for his success.
“You know, he was here, graduated from Kennedy High School and was a part of our community for a year. Now he has won a couple of Stanley Cups. There were four former USHL players playing in that game last night. That says a lot about our league.”
The Los Angeles/Cedar Rapids ties don’t end with Martinez. Former RoughRiders assistant coach Mark Mullen is a scout for the Kings and was in L.A. for Game 5.
As is hockey tradition, members of the winning organization get to spend a day with the Stanley Cup, and Mullen — who lives in Cedar Rapids with his wife, Amber, and their five daughters — brought it to the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena two years ago to share with RoughRiders fans.
“That’s another important part of this story,” Carlso nsaid. “Here’s a guy who was a part of our organization, still lives here, married a Cedar Rapids girl, has a family here. That’s pretty special.”
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