Jimmy Martin ’11, defender on the No. 10 men’s ice hockey team, spent his freshman season last year skating in all 34 games and is in the midst of another solid season this year. The St. Louis native and Ezra Stiles College resident talks to the News about his hockey roots, playing at Yale and winning the ECAC title.

Q Tell us about your childhood — how did you start playing hockey?

A I began playing hockey because my older cousin was a big hockey guy. My parents took me to skate when I was 4½ years old, after having just moved to St. Louis (where I grew up for my entire childhood) from New York City, where I lived for the first four years of my life. I remember my first pair of skates were CCM Tacks 852s and my first pair of gloves were royal blue Louisvilles (which I still have today hanging in my room). I took skating clinics for a while in just skates and gloves, until my parents saw that I was falling in love with skating, and they sprung for all the equipment so I could play the sport. My best Christmas and birthday presents growing up were always the hockey ones.

Q What do you love about hockey?

A I could never get enough of it growing up, and I still can’t today. I grew up on a street with several families who all had young boys, so many that there were 15 or so young boys who all loved sports, and we had countless numbers of street hockey games, along with many other sports. I loved it then, and I still love it just as much to this day. I love practicing, mixing it up with the guys, and yelling on the ice. I am grateful for the chance to play this great game every day.

Q You played on the same line as Ryan Donald ’10 for most of the year; did you play well together on the ice?

A I’ve played with Donald for the better part of my almost two years here at Yale. I really enjoy playing with him, and we’ve played enough that we know each other’s tendencies and what we’re going to do on the ice. He is a guy that does not get enough credit for what he does. He’s a great defenseman that moves the puck, hits and seems to always be in the right position defensively, which makes him very easy to play with. He is very underrated. I’ve also roomed with him on the road for two years since coming to Yale, which has been fun. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well, and that only helps on the ice.

Q How hard has it been defending some tough teams like No. 12 Princeton and No. 9 Cornell?

A We’ve played some very good teams this year, and anytime that happens, the D-Corps on the whole has to be ready for a challenge. Playing against Princeton, we have to be ready for speed and aggression on the forecheck, while against Cornell we have to deal with the immense size of some of their forwards. Being a smaller guy, positioning is huge in this situation. We’re a very tight-knit group of defensemen, and every guy pulls for one another on the bench.

Q What were the last two games like — the first to win the title and then losing to Colgate in overtime?

A The game against Cornell was just awesome. They are a great team, and to beat them at home in front of an amazing Ingalls crowd was very rewarding. It was even more exciting when we found out that Princeton had lost later on, and we celebrated in the locker room with the Cleary Cup. Losing to Colgate brought us back down to reality. We played flat for two periods and then finally lost in overtime. It was very disappointing.

Q What was winning the ECAC championship like?

A Winning the Cleary Cup was very rewarding. We work year-round for the chance to do great things on the ice, and we certainly accomplished one of our goals in winning the ECAC regular season title. We still have several goals left to shoot for, and we are putting thoughts of the Cup aside and getting back to work on accomplishing those.

Q What do you think you’re going to have to do to succeed in the playoffs?

A To succeed in the playoffs we need to bring the same relentless work ethic and passion that we have played with all season long. Our team game is a strength of our hockey team as well. If we focus, work hard, and have fun with it as well, hopefully we will go deep into the playoffs.