Mark Yetman has played every minute of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs and sits third among all goaltenders in goals-against average and save percentage.
But none of it impresses Benoit Groulx.
“We think he’s not as good as (backup Pier-Olivier) Pelletier,” the Gatineau Olympiques’ head coach said. “He’s their weakness, and it’s something we’re going to try and exploit.”
Groulx’s Olympiques are preparing to clash with Yetman’s Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL semifinals, with Games 1 and 2 set for tomorrow and Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Metro Centre.
Yetman, 19, took over Halifax’s starting duties in late February after the 20-year-old Pelletier suffered through a prolonged slump. He has played well, and has an 8-3 record, a 2.22 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage to show for it.
But Gatineau is the best offensive team Halifax has faced in the playoffs, and Groulx thinks his forwards — led by playoff scoring leader Claude Giroux — could feast on Yetman.
“The most difficult thing will be getting to the net — we know they’ve tightened up their game and that they’re playing with more intensity,” Groulx said.
“We don’t have as many offensive weapons as they have, but if we can get to the net, we feel we’re gonna be able to score goals on Yetman.”
Groulx said he believes the Olympiques have the edge in goal with 20-year-old Ryan Mior, whose 239 career regular-season starts are more than any goaltender in QMJHL history.
That assessment isn’t supported by the stats, as Mior’s 2.77 goals-against average and .887 save percentage pale in comparison to the numbers of Yetman, who started his first Q game a year ago and who has never been this deep in the playoffs.
Yetman has been at his best in the clutch, helping the Mooseheads emerge with victory in the quarter-finals against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with big saves — many from point-blank range — in third periods and overtimes.
“That’s his opinion and that’s fine,” Mooseheads head coach Cam Russell said, in response to Groulx’s comments. “Mark’s been our most consistent player throughout the playoffs and we’re very happy with how he’s played for us.”
As for Mior, Russell said, “You watch video and see where goaltenders are weak. He’s obviously a good goaltender and we respect that. But we have an offensive team and we’ve got to take advantage and fire a lot of shots on him.”
Olympiques coach takes shot at ‘Yeti’
Mark Yetman has played every minute of the Quebec Major Junior HockeyLeague playoffs and sits third among all goaltenders in goals-againstaverage and save percentage. But none of it impresses Benoit Groulx.