Pioneers prospecting for gold

John
John Browne
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Host team from St. John's looks to improve on last year's bronze-medal finish

The coach of the St. John's Pioneers will be disappointed if his team isn't in the championship game of the 2009 peewee AAA Aliant Atlantic hockey tournament, opening today at Mile One Centre in St. John's.

"I want to be in that gold-medal game," said Pat Yetman. "This team is capable of going all the way if they play a team game. If they get into playing as individuals, they won't do it. But if they play the system we have in place, everything should be fine."

Tyler Boland (left) and Nathan Yetman (right) are two members of the St. John's Aliant Pioneers who played on last year's Aliant Atlantic peewee AAA bronze-medalists from St. John's. - Photos by The Telegram

The coach of the St. John's Pioneers will be disappointed if his team isn't in the championship game of the 2009 peewee AAA Aliant Atlantic hockey tournament, opening today at Mile One Centre in St. John's.

"I want to be in that gold-medal game," said Pat Yetman. "This team is capable of going all the way if they play a team game. If they get into playing as individuals, they won't do it. But if they play the system we have in place, everything should be fine."

The Aliant Pioneers are hosts for the five-team tournament. The Tri-Com Flyers, who lost 12-2 in the provincial final to St. John's last month in Labrador City, are Newfoundland and Labrador's representatives in the tourney, which also includes teams representing defending champion Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Newfoundland's entry from St. John's won the bronze medal last year in P.E.I.

St. John's went through the provincial event with a perfect 6-0 record, but Yetman says the team really hasn't been pushed this season.

"There was no competition at all for us, that's why we practised hard," he said.

Yetman pointed out a team like the one representing Nova Scotia has played about 50 games this season, while St. John's has had "about eight or nine" games - including the provincial playoffs - although his skaters have played games in the local Tri-Com peewee A league.

Yetman said the players who were on last year's team told him this year's squad is better.

"I think this year's team is better prepared," said Yetman, who pronounced his team to be in "great shape" and solid on defence and in goal.

But the real strength, he said, is overall balance.

"We've got three solid lines. We can throw any line out there and they'll do the job. It's going to take a good team to beat us," said Yetman, who feels home ice will bring out the best in his players.

"They will not be outworked, believe me."

Opening ceremonies are set for 7:30 tonight. The bronze-medal game will be played 10 a.m. Sunday, with the gold-medal game slated for noon.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Tri-Com Flyers

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island New Brunswick

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