Goalies like to be busy. In games, specifically, and in a larger context, during the hockey season.
The latter has been a bit of challenge for Mark Yetman. During any given week in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League regular season, Yetman was on the ice for just one practice and no more than two games with the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, assuming he was getting the starting nod.
Three skates per week doesn’t cut for a goalie looking to stay on top of his game.
“It sounds funny that we have only one practice a week, but that practice is pretty huge for a goalie because you get back into the rhythm before you play,” said Yetman, whose Cataracts and Clarenville Caribous are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven the Telegram Herder Memorial Championship Series heading into tonight’s Game 3 at the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook.
“If I didn’t skate during the week, how good would I be?”
During his days with Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Yetman was strapping on the pads on a daily basis.
“You’re on the ice every single day for an hour and a half, you’ve got a workout in the morning or after practice and you play three or four times a week,” he said.
Since returning home two years ago, Yetman has been able to emulate his busy junior schedule by joining a group of former and current senior hockey players who gather at Capital Hyundai (Prince of Wales) Arena for a brisk skate three nights a week.
There, Yetman finds himself stopping shots fired by the likes of former senior hockey standouts Brian Mulcahy, Greg Smyth, Billy Windsor and Andy Sullivan.
And while they’re all are a little longer in the tooth than the 24-year-old puckstopper they’re facing, Yetman says the quality of the game is “almost more competitive than senior hockey.”
“It’s not like I’m playing a random shinny skate. It’s a really highly-skilled skate and it definitely helps before the weekends,” he said.
“They keep score and every goal is scrutinized. If I let in a bad one, they are letting me have it.”
Yetman appreciates being part of the fraternity as much as he does the chance to stay sharp.
“It’s unbelievable. I look Andy Sullivan and if he wanted to, he could come back and play senior now and he’s 50 years old,” he says. “Bird Dog (Smyth )is up there barking at everyone, he’s into it probably just as much as when he played (in the NHL and with the AHL’s St. John’s Maple Leafs).
“It’s great to go in there, I hear all the stories from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.”
Despite the calibre of hockey, the skates at Capital Hyundai generally doesn’t attract spectators, but Yetman isn’t bothered, having played in front as few as 25 people on Bell Island and as many as 15,000 at the Colisée in Quebec City.
Nonetheless, he hopes a healthy contingent of fans from Grand Falls-Windsor will be making the trip to Corner Brook to support the Cats as they seek to collect their second straight Herder title.
Games 4 and 5 in the final are set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the Pepsi Centre.
“We have great fans and I know for sure it would have sold out (Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium) if we had to charge $50 a ticket,” said Yetman.
“But it would be nice if we could get as many of our fans as we can to go out (to Corner Brook).”
(This is a corrected version)