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Roykas Marthinsen lives out fantasy during Capitals training camp

Norway-born seventh-round pick skated three days on same line with Ovechkin

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Forward Kristian Roykas Marthinsen's first NHL training camp with the Washington Capitals has been more like a hockey fantasy camp.

When he arrived from Norway last week, Roykas Marthinsen, the Capitals' seventh-round pick (No. 213) in the 2017 NHL Draft, never imagined he'd skate on a line with captain Alex Ovechkin, who was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players last season. He did a double take when he looked at the posted list of practice groups for the first day of on-ice sessions Friday and saw his name at right wing on a line with Ovechkin at left wing and center Lars Eller.

"When I saw the lineup I was really shocked," Roykas Marthinsen said. "I was nervous, but when you get out there and the drills start you just forget about it and you have fun."

Roykas Marthinsen practiced with Ovechkin and Eller for the first three days of training camp before shifting to a different line Monday. Getting to skate alongside Ovechkin for three days will be the lasting memory he takes with him after he leaves camp on Wednesday and heads to Sweden to play this season with Almtuna in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second-highest league.

"I saw a picture of me and him on the ice and I posted it on my private Instagram and all my friends were texting me, 'Oh my God,'" he said. "It's crazy. When you have been growing up watching these guys and you're here now playing with them, it's crazy."

Roykas Marthinsen (6-foot, 185 pounds), who turned 18 on Aug. 28, is the youngest player at Capitals training camp and had been to North America twice previously, with a team from Norway for a tournament in Chicago about three years ago and for Capitals development camp in late June. Coach Barry Trotz thought having him practice on a line with veterans Ovechkin and Eller would help him with the adjustment.

"Hopefully they can help him out," Trotz said. "It's probably a little intimidating. I know I'd be intimidated. Hopefully he works through that."

Roykas Marthinsen said Ovechkin, "gave me some advice and said, 'Good job' on other stuff," during practices.

What kind of advice did Ovechkin, a seven-time 50-goal scorer, give him?

"To shoot the puck and take it to the net," Roykas Marthinsen said. "Rather than look around you, take it to the net."

Eller also tried to help Roykas Marthinsen and calm his nerves, which were understandable considering the circumstances.

"Some of these guys are coming in and playing with guys they've been watching on TV for years," Eller said. "There's a lot of learning going on for a guy like that and he's going to feel more comfortable as camp goes and next year and so on and so forth. But I think he had a fun week."

Roykas Marthinsen, who followed the NHL closely growing up in Norway, said Ovechkin was his favorite Capitals player, but he was wearing a hat that with No. 36 Zuccarello on it, giving away that his favorite NHL player is fellow Norway native Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers.

Roykas Marthinsen said his allegiance switched to the Capitals the moment they drafted him. That too was a surprise.

He wasn't expecting to be picked so he didn't bother watching the draft on television. He learned he had been selected by the Capitals from his older brother, Andreas, who texted him when he saw the news online.

The Capitals were impressed by Roykas Marthinsen's play at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Division 1 Championship in Bled, Slovenia, where he had eight points (five goals, three assists) in five games.

Roykas Marthinsen has yet to sign a contract, but said if all goes well with his development he might try to come to North America to play in two years.

His experience at training camp has fueled his desire to do that.

"It was the dream," he said of practicing on a line with Ovechkin. "Now the dream is to play in the NHL, of course."

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