Literally, it’s a long road ahead for Emerson Etem. It could also be figuratively as well.
The Medicine Hat Tiger has to travel over 1000 kilometres by bus to meet the Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round of the WHL playoffs. Because Brandon’s Westman Place will play host to the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, the club’s first two home playoff dates have been moved further east to Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.
But the chance to play in the postseason has Etem willing to take his Tigers anywhere.
“We’ve been waiting for this all year. We’ve used it for motivation,” Etem said. “Going into it we knew, whether it was Brandon or Edmonton going into the playoffs we knew we were going to face a good team. We’re going to battle and play our hardest.”
The long road could be a fitting parallel for Etem’s NHL dream.
A year removed from being Anaheim’s second pick, 29th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Long Beach, CA native netted 45 goals playing alongside Linden Vey, the WHL’s top scorer. Not eligible for the American Hockey League, it’s either make the Ducks out of camp or spend another year riding the bus around Western Canada.
“I have the goal to make the Ducks roster but it’s a great situation in Medicine Hat and I love it as well,” Etem said. “You’ve got a goal in mind to play pro but it’s such a great organization here. We have a consistent yearly winning streak and the great coaching staff. Like I said, it’s a great development team and I’m just happy to be in Medicine Hat.
Etem’s offseason could play a big part of dictating whether he’ll be closer to home next season. The six-foot-one, 197-pound winger is expecting to return under TR Goodman’s wing, who has served as a personal trainer to former NHL defenseman Chris Chelios and boxer Fernando Vargas. Goodman’s Gold’s Gym is just over 30 miles from Etem’s future employer.
“Obviously Anaheim, whatever they decide on but I’ve been training with Goodman for the past five or six years now,” Etem said. “For me, that’s my go-to guy and I’m not looking to change it up this summer. He’s gotten me so strong since he’s helped me develop since I’ve been 15. I’m just going to go there and train all summer and get better.”
And if Etem trains hard enough, he could be on the fast track to the start of his professional career.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!