California Rubber

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Long Beach native, former Ducks prospect Etem delving into NA3HL coaching ranks


A nagging knee injury won’t keep Emerson Etem away from the game of hockey.

Etem, a Long Beach native and one-time first-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks back in 2010, will be the head coach and GM for the North American 3 Hockey League’s (NA3HL) Missoula Jr. Bruins next season.


Current Missoula coach and GM Cliff Cook has accepted a position with a collegiate program beginning in the 2020-21 season but will finish the 2019-20 season with the Jr. Bruins.

“We are very excited to have Emerson become a part of the Missoula Jr. Bruins family,” said team owners Jason and Liz DiMatteo. “There are so many things that excite us about Emerson. He has an obvious love for the game and a deep passion for teaching. He is not just going to be a great asset for our team, but for the Missoula hockey community at large. He understands the importance of the team being a positive influence in the community and will ensure that Missoulians everywhere know who the Bruins are what we are about.”

Missoula is a town of nearly 70,000 people located in western Montana.

“I would first like to thank Jason and Liz DiMatteo, Cliff Cook and (assistant coach) Mike Anderson for giving me this special opportunity,” said Etem. “Any great coach in hockey has received a shot from someone, and mine comes from those four individuals. I’ve spent close to 20,000 on-ice hours over the last 18 months working with various age groups including players in the AHL, NCAA and AJHL. I think the game at a way higher level than even in my NHL days and look forward to passing off this knowledge to these young men.”

Etem, who retired after the 2018-19 season due to a recurring knee problem, was selected 29th overall by the Ducks and played in 173 games in the NHL over parts of five seasons with the Ducks, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He is currently a coach with the South Alberta Hockey Academy with his former NHL and Western Hockey League (WHL) coach, Willie Desjardins.

NA3HLDesjardins also coached the Los Angeles Kings during the 2018-19 season.

The 27-year-old also played one season with USA Hockey’s NTDP, three seasons with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, and 145 AHL games, including stints with the San Diego Gulls, Ontario Reign and Tucson Roadrunners (pictured).

In his three seasons with Tigers, Etem amassed 296 points in 236 regular-season and playoff games, including a 120-point season in his final year with the team.

Already preparing for the next NA3HL season, Etem wants the Jr. Bruins to play a style that he feels is essential to win in today’s game.

“We’re going to be a puck-possession team,” Etem said. “How you in win today’s game is by out-competing and out-playmaking the other team.”

Off the ice, Etem wants all of Missoula to know and be proud of the Jr. Bruins.

“We’re going to get out in the community and create an atmosphere at Glacier Ice Rink that will be unmatched,” said Etem.

During his youth hockey career, Etem skated for the Huntington Beach Sun Devils, Long Beach Jr. Ice Dogs and LA Hockey Club.

Etem’s mother Patricia is a former U.S. Olympic team rower who was unable to participate in the 1980 games due to the boycott. His older brother Martin rowed at Syracuse University and his older sister Elise was a swimmer and rower at the University of California-Berkeley.

On the home front, Etem has a son and daughter with his wife Danette. Their son Laulo is three years old and their daughter Alaïa is seven months old. The couple married back in June 2016.

Photo/Phillip Brents

(Feb. 21, 2020)

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