Former Nitehawk, Craig Martin, signs ATO with Florida Panther affiliate

Former Beaver Valley Nitehawk forward, Craig Martin, signed an amateur tryout contract with the Springfield Thunderbirds, the AHL Affiliate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers, on Tuesday.

Martin just finished his NCAA career with the Quinnipiac University Bobcats on Sunday, and follows in former teammate Jake Lucchini’s foot steps, who signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, last month.

The 24-year-old Martin is also the second Quinnipiac player to sign a professional contract following the 2018-19 season as Brogan Rafferty signed an entry-level contract with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

“My time at Quinnipiac has been unbelievable and I can’t thank everyone enough for what they’ve done for me over the past four years,” Martin said in a release. “The entire organization is first class from top to bottom and it has been an honour putting on the gold and blue. I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime and Quinnipiac will always have a special place in my heart.

The Trail native is coming off the best season of his Quinnipiac career as he totalled 30 points on 11 goals and 19 assists, all good for career-highs. Martin scored a pair of goals in the postseason, including the Bobcats’ only goal in the NCAA Midwest Regional Final 3-1 loss to Minnesota Duluth.

In his NCAA career, Martin appeared in 134 games and recorded 27 goals and 48 assists for 75 points. Martin had several big games this season including three of his four two-goal games, five of his 10 multi-assist games and 10 of his 19 career multi-point games.

Martin began his junior career in Beaver Valley with the Nitehawks in 2012, leading the Hawks to a KIJHL championship with an MVP season, scoring 48 goals and 96 points in 50 games. He joined the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL for the 2012-13 season, and was traded to Alberni Valley the next year, but eventually capped off his junior career back at home with the Smoke Eaters in 2014-15 where he counted 46 points in 41 games.

“I am very excited to start my pro career with the Springfield Thunderbirds and look forward to this new chapter,” added Martin.

The Thunderbirds have five games remaining in their 2018-19 season and Martin was expected to make his AHL Debut Wednesday night when they faced the Hartford Wolf Pack at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.