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Yetman brings some ‘across the pond’ hockey back home

Patrick Yetman
Patrick Yetman

St. John’s native spent a decade playing in Europe; now he’s using what he learned overseas while coaching youngsters and the CWSHL’s Cataracts

Patrick Yetman played 10 years pro overseas, through the early part of the decade when few Newfoundland hockey players ventured beyond the North American minor pro circuits.

The European game was suited to the product of the St. John’s minor hockey system, hailing from the Shea Heights part of town; he wasn’t especially big but could skate and was a gifted play-maker and finisher.

In Germany, Norway, Finland and Sweden, Yetman thrived in the European game, which uses a blueprint based on speed and skill on the larger ice. It’s a style he now teaches the youngsters in his Yetman’s Action Hockey program, and will be employing in provincial senior hockey this season as the new coach of the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts.

Yetman takes over behind the Cats’ bench from Tom Coolen, the former NHL assistant coach who guided the club for two seasons before taking over a Polish first division team this year. Coolen is also an assistant to Ted Nolan on the Polish national team.

The Cataracts’ gig comes at the perfect time for Yetman, who turns 37 this month. He didn’t coach last season, and missed being around a team after helping out Doug Jackman with the St. John’s Privateers major midget squad for a couple or three seasons.

“A lot of people concentrate a lot on skating, and I do, too, of course. But I also focus on puck control. You can be the fastest skater, but if you can’t control the puck, you’re in trouble.”

Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts coach Patrick Yetman

Yetman is currently in the process of completing his High Performance I coaching certification from Hockey Canada.

Not saying Canadian hockey was all about size and physical play — Hockey Canada’s overall record on the international stage is unequalled — but there is certainly more attention being placed on skating and skills in the pro game, vs size and hitting (there will always be a need for big, strong players in professional hockey, but the game, more than ever before, has opened its doors to the smaller player).

“We’ve always placed an emphasis on the skill side of things,” Yetman said of the long-running hockey school, founded by his father, Pat Sr. “It’s about shooting, passing and receiving, skating.

“A lot of people concentrate a lot on skating, and I do, too, of course. But I also focus on puck control. You can be the fastest skater, but if you can’t control the puck, you’re in trouble.”

It’s a style of play Yetman promises to employ in Grand Falls-Windsor, where the Cataracts open their 2017-18 Central West Senior Hockey League season this weekend against the Clarenville Caribous at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium.

The Cataracts were dethroned as league champions by the Caribous, but did win Newfoundland’s third Allan Cup Canadian senior hockey championship in Bouctouche, N.B.

Yetman is looking forward to taking the Caribous’ reigns, extending his passion of teaching fundamental skills from the youngsters to young men.

He played three years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, one in Cape Breton and the other two in Moncton, where he registered a 101-point season in his last year with the Wildcats.

An undrafted free agent, Yetman worked his way up from the ECHL to the Kansas City Blades of the old International league and the American Hockey League (Hartford Wolf Pack, Springfield Falcons and Manitoba Moose).

He ventured overseas in 2003 — that was after a couple of training camp invites to the Vancouver Canucks’ and New York Rangers’ camps — and played a couple of years of German second division hockey and a year in Norway before joining the Swedish and Finnish Elite leagues.

Among his teammates in Sweden and Finland were current NHLers Victor Hedman, Mats Zuccarello and Joel Armia and, for a brief period of time with Modo, former NHL superstar Peter Forsberg.

He also played with Mark Lee of the Goulds, on Assat Pori in Finland for a spell.

He was forced to retire in 2013 when a dislocated bone in his wrist eventually led to an undiagnosed infection, from which he is still recovering.

“Even up to Christmas last year, my hand was still improving,” he said.

Yetman began working at his father’s hockey school during the summers while he was still playing. Helping develop young players, he said, has become a passion.

Hockey Canada this year created cross-ice hockey for five- and six-year-olds, whereby the ice is split in half and kids playing from side to side.

The idea has had its detractors, but Yetman said it’s one his organization has been employing for years, along with the European minor hockey organizations.

“The kids are more engaged with the cross-ice,” he said. “They’re getting more touches on the puck, and it makes them think much quicker. After a while, you actually see them trying to make play.

“We’ve been doing this now for three years, and you see it in the kids who have been playing with us. When they go on full ice, they have a grasp for the game.”










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