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Both sides of the river: Erik Martinson

Martinson Officiates a Game Between East Grand Forks and Roseau. (photo by Bruce Brierley)

by Oliver Francies:

Erik Martinson is the Associate Athletics Director of Operations for the University of North Dakota (UND) Athletics Department. He and his wife live in the Greater Grand Forks Community and through his time here, he not only works as the Associate AD for Operations at UND, he also officiates games in East Grand Forks and the rest of Northern Minnesota.

He lives in the Greater Grand Forks Community with his wife and infant daughter. Martinson has made key contributions on both sides of the river to sport at large, especially in the field of hockey. In hockey, at UND Martinson has created a world-class stats operation dedicated to accuracy and superb game notes that are relied on by throngs of media and countless fans and scouts around the world to help them understand how their Fighting Hawks do on the ice.

In addition, Martinson has helped UND secure host bids multiple times for NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regionals in Fargo (2015, 2017,2019, and 2021) Sioux Falls (2018) and his Game Operations Crew ran the most recent NCHC Frozen Faceoff in St. Paul.

Beyond his multifaceted role in Operations at UND, Martinson is a hockey official. His love for hockey started early. When he was younger he would bring referees refreshments as his dad ran the local rink. Martinson is a Roseau native that always seems to find his way to the ice.

Martinson loves small towns across Minnesota and North Dakota. On East Grand Forks, he said “ You get that vibe in a special place like EGF or any of the northern MN and ND towns you walk into. People care and that is a special thing to have in a small town like East Grand Forks.” Martinson officiates or serves as a linesman for about one-third of his 50 games a year in East Grand Forks.

Martinson did note some advice for anyone looking to get into officiating,

“Stay with it. It is never easy but it gets easier. Retention of officials is so tough because I feel the hardest years are your first couple of years when you may have some uncertainty or uneasiness in making calls or being in the right position. The expectation of being perfect some parents, coaches, and fans put on young officials is overwhelming but sticking with it and getting through some of those tougher games makes you a better person. The life lessons you learn on the ice from communication to respect to being a good teammate all helps you later in life. It enriches you to want to do better and become a better official. I always joke that Bobby Lukkason (WCHA/IIHF official from EGF) would not be as confident as he is today, without going through some tough games and persevering through and getting better.”

That ability to persevere that Martinson carries with him on the ice applies to his main job at UND. Martinson’s supreme versatility and ability to work with visiting teams and staff, among other things, have made him indispensable to the UND Athletics Department. The list of accomplishments that Erik Martinson has been involved with in some way with UND is too long for any one writer to list in any article. He is always complimentary of the numbers of staff that work for or with him to put on events with UND Athletics. Everyday he embraces the new challenges that lie ahead in both of his jobs, and in both of his roles strives to improve daily.

As to living in the Greater Grand Forks area Martinson noted “This is a place we call home. This is a place where we are raising our kids. It is a special place for so many reasons. I absolutely love talking to coaches or ex-players that have left and come back to live and they all say the same thing… this community and area is special.”

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