The Gander Flyers have continued to be busy this off-season, having switched leagues, found a new coach, and, just last week, signed two new players.
Using social media, as it did when it announced June 20 that Chris Peach would the Flyers new head coach, the organization to let Flyers Nation know it had signed goaltender Mark Yetman and defenceman Alex Powell for the upcoming season.
Yetman is no stranger to Newfoundland senior hockey fans, winning Herder Memorial Trophy titles with the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in 2011 and the Conception Bay North CeeBees in 2013.
As a member of the Cataracts, Yetman was named top goaltender in the NLSHL in 2012.
Prior to his Newfoundland and Labrador senior hockey career, heplayed for the Yarmouth Mariners and Halifax Wolverines of the Maritime Junior Hockey League, Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Brock University.
Meanwhile, Powell comes to the Flyers after finishing his junior career with the Avalon Capitals in the St. John’s Junior Hockey League.
Last season, as captain of the Capitals, he scored 35 points in 27 games and walked away with league MVP and Top Defenseman honours.
Powell also helped the Capitals win the SJJHL Championship, was named MVP of the playoffs, and led the playoffs in scoring.
Prior to joining the Capitals, Powell played one season with the Kanata Stallions in the Central Canadian Hockey League.
For the Flyers’ fan, it may seem adding another to the mix may be a logjam between the pipes, as the Flyers already have three goaltenders from last year’s team still signed to contracts — Patty O’Brien, Devin O’Brien and Gambo-native Travis Wilkins.
However, according to Flyers’ general manager Garry White, this may not be the case depending on personal situations of the puck-stopping O’Briens — Patty and Devin.
White said since last season ended, Patty has graduated from post-secondary and, even though he is working in Gander, he doesn’t know quite yet what the goaltender’s work schedule will be and how much time he will be able to commit to the Flyers.
As for Devin, he said he recently made a career change, and he may also not be able to fully commit to the Flyers.
“Obviously, we cannot carry four goaltenders, so it’s a matter of communicating with the boys (the O’Briens) and see who we can get the better commitment out of,” said White. “Chris Peach is coming on as our head coach, and he will ultimately make the final decision.”
White said, while the organization is excited with the signings of its two newest players, it is only the start of more to come.
“People are going to see six or seven new faces with the Flyers this year…players we feel will make us very competitive for the Herder,” said White. “These two players certainly will play a role in this. We are getting a goaltender with a proven track record of winning, and a young strong defenceman who had a great final season of junior hockey with a lot of potential.”
Even though he wouldn’t release any names, White said he is hoping to have two more defencemen signed in the near future — one being an import and one being a local player who he needs to obtain the rights to from another team.
“Defence was certainly one of the areas we identified as needing to improve in,” he said. “I can honestly say I’m busy working on doing just that, not just in that one area but as a team overall. I’m probably busier this off-season than I was when we put the team together two years ago.
“There are more exciting times ahead for Flyers fans, and the best thing I can say is, stay tuned.”