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Interview with UCLA forward Martin Galstyan

By A. Sheldon

Martin Galstyan

Martin Galstyan is the top line center for the American Collegiate Hockey Associations UCLA Bruins hockey club, registering 41 goals and 19 assists in 19 games.

For the 2004-05 season, Galstyans 60 points has him sitting in the No.14 slot out of 400 players in the ACHA rankings, and at No. 1 in the West region.

The UCLA forwards 3.158 points-per-game total places him within the top five in the nation, with just two of the higher ranked individual point leaders authoring slightly higher averages than Galstyan.

Galstyan was born and raised in Glendale, California - the third largest city in Los Angeles County, at the foot of the Verdugo Mountains. He remained in Glendale till he was scouted and drafted by the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League for the 1999-00 season.

He moved to South Dakota to play for Stampede, but after a full year with the team he was traded to the Sioux City Musketeers. In Iowa, Galstyan was a member of the Sioux City squad for two years, even winning the Clark Cup in 2002, during his final USHL season.

[AS] What was the transition like, going from Midget AAA to the USHL?

[MG] It was a difficult transition. The players drafted into that league, a lot were headed into the NHL and had Division 1 scholarships. It was a faster pace with bigger and stronger players. I didnt pick it up as quick as I would have liked and I didnt play as much, till I was traded. I had worked harder over the summer (after my first season) and figured out what it takes to contend in that league, so I was given another chance with another team.

[AS] Tell me about the USHL postseason with the Musketeers and the match on April 12th, 2002, when you tallied the game-winning goal against your former team, the Sioux Falls Stampede.

[MG] I was out with an ankle injury for the second half of that year. It was a high ankle sprain that I suffered in a game when I fell on it wrong. In the playoffs I figured it was my last year in the league with a good team that had a good chance at the championship, so I decided I would play through it either way. It wasnt fully healed, so I played with a soft cast. In the first round we played my former team and in the second game of the series I scored the game-winning goal, the only goal of the game. And in the third period, I re-injured my ankle. I didnt get to play in the next game when we actually knocked them out of the playoffs.

Next we played Green Bay and swept them, so there was a pretty good gap before the next round. It was a best-of-five and the teams we were waiting for played all five, which gave me two weeks to heal, so I could play on my ankle again.

In the finals we beat Omaha in the fifth and deciding game, in overtime. I was able to play in that game and within the first 6-7 minutes of overtime, we scored.

[AS] How was that moment for you, winning the Clark Cup?

[MG] It was extra special for me because my dad flew out from California to attend that game and it was the first game he had been to all year. I didnt know he was there till I was skating around with the cup and saw him in the stands. It was emotional.

[AS] Why didnt you stay in the USHL?

[MG] I decided I was going to go home after that year. I had two NCAA Division I scholarships. One was to Iona College in New York and the other to Yukon University in Connecticut. But I didnt see myself going too far in hockey and decided to go home and pursue my education instead. Right now my education is more important, but its great to still be able to play hockey at a competitive level and be close to home.

[AS] Why did you choose UCLA?

[MG] I moved back home and went to Glendale Community College for two years, to get general education credit out of the way, so I could transfer. I always liked UCLA as a kid and I knew if hockey didnt work out, then I would like to be closer to home, which UCLA was as opposed to other universities. I am studying psychobiology. Its half psychology, half biology. I am pre-med, so it fulfills requirements and I have always been interested in psychology, which the degree provides a different aspect of.

[AS] The UCLA Bruins authored a disappointing seven and 17 campaign during the 2003-04 season. This season, with you having recently joined the team as a junior transfer, anchoring the top line, the Bruins have gone 11 and five, have earned the top seed in the Pac-8 and managed to defeat the USC Trojans to take home the Crosstown Cup for the first time in six years. How much has your presence been a factor in the teams turnaround?

[MG] I made the team a little deeper and there are a couple more strong lines now and a couple good D-men that contributed a lot this year. They have been losing for four years and the graduating seniors wanted to leave here with something. They were hungry.

[AS] How do you feel your season has gone for you so far, a personal opinion of your performance?

[MG] Any individual accomplishments are a bonus to me. The team comes first. The teams goals were to win the Crosstown Cup and to make the Pac-8 playoffs and contend for the championship. Anything after that, individually, is icing on the cake.

[AS] Sean Haq of Berkeley said you seem to always be in the right place at the right time for the goal. How much of that is luck and how much can be contributed to your "hockey awareness?" Or, as Wayne Gretsky said: "I dont skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it is going to be."

[MG] Haq is a fast player and gets his chances from speed. I try to be at the right place at the right time because I am not the fast one out there. I have never been a flashy player, more of a smarter player. I am trying to move ahead like chess. I try and figure out what the other person is going to do before they do it, so I can be in the right spot.

[AS] What is one aspect of your game that people may not be aware of, but you take a lot of pride in?

[MG] My physical play. I am hard to knock off the puck when I have it. I am good at puck protection.

[AS] What is your height/weight?

[MG] I am 5,11" and 195 pounds.

[AS] What do you consider your strengths?

[MG] I have a pretty good shot, my snapshot, quick release.

[AS] And weaknesses?

[MG] I need to work on my backhand, an underrated shot, and gain more stamina. Over the past couple years, it has not been the same since juniors. And my speed as my high end speed is not so bad, but quick starts I need to work on. Though, you really either have it or you dont.

[AS] Did hockey come easy to you or did you have to work at it?

[MG] It came pretty easy when I started, better than most other people. But at the higher levels everyone is at the same place, so it is like dropping back and having to work your way up again.

[AS] When did you start playing hockey?

[MG] I started playing hockey when I was 10-years-old. I was watching it on TV and decided I wanted to play. I rollerbladed for a few months, then went on the ice. I had a friend that played before, so I asked him and he told me about a rink and a program. Soon after, I signed on and got on a team, walked right on to travel hockey. I fell in love with the sport because of its competitiveness and fast pace. I fell in love with it more and more and then I played higher and higher levels and thought I might make a career of it.

[AS] Growing up, did you have a favorite team and who was your hockey idol?

[MG] The Pittsburg Penguins and Mario Lemieux was my favorite player. That is someone I grew to like as he is one of the best players out there. I try to shape my game like his game.

[AS] I understand the (UCLA) Bruins practice in the same facility as the LA Kings , do you interact/come across players often?

[MG] We practice at the Health South Training Center. Last year they did, though as this is my first year with the program and with no NHL, they have not been around as much. Daryl Evans, one of the coaches of the Bruins, was the radio broadcaster and a former player for the Kings back in the day. He is now the assistant coach helping out the team this year.

[AS] And the USC Trojans play at the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim facility, so in a way, it is a Kings and Ducks rivalry in the absence of the NHL.

[MG] (laughs) Yeah. I never went to a game last year, but this last game we had against USC was the biggest crowd at our home rink with USCs band, but we beat them so it was okay.

[AS] What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment or most cherished moment in your hockey career to date?

[MG] Winning the (USHL) Clark Cup has been my most cherished moment so far.

[AS] What does the future hold?

[MG] Hopefully, as long as I am going to school, I have five years eligibly. I would like to continue playing. I enjoy it. I want to continue winning and help keep UCLA a powerhouse and a contender.