Former Yorkton Terrier rearguard Greg Coburn is on his way to Finland to start his professional career.
Coburn, originally from Shaunavon, SK., said he chose the Tampereen Ilves of the Finnish Elite League out of several options he looked at.
“Once I decided Europe was an option for this season my agent contacted teams on my behalf,” he told Yorkton This Week. “We looked at different leagues and different team but felt Ilves was the best fit.”
Coburn said hockey in Finland is a good brand of the sport.
“The Finnish Elite League (SM-liiga) is considered a strong league,” he said. “It’s hard to compare it to a league in North America. I would say it’s around the AHL (American Hockey League), but in the SM-liiga there are players old and young. Guys have played in the league or other leagues for 15-20 years.”
Coburn will leave soon for Europe.
“There are 14 teams in the league,” he explained. “We play 60 games, plus exhibition and playoffs. I don’t know anyone else on the team but the guys have been friendly and welcoming. The season starts the middle of September.”
Coburn said he heads to Finland as an import player.
“In the SM-liiga there are only four import players allowed per team,” he said.
That factor adds some pressure to the situation.
“Therefore, the expectations are fairly high for imports,” said Coburn.
Since graduating from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Terriers after the 2008-’09 season Coburn has been playing college hockey at Union College in New York.
“Union was an awesome experience,” he said. “It was an adjustment coming from Junior hockey with the added school work, but once I got back into the swing of school it was a lot more manageable.
“Union College had a good balance of hockey and academics. We were there to play hockey but hockey was never put before the academic side of things.”
Coburn, who graduated with a managerial economic degree and history minor, said as a team Union experienced a lot of success during his tenure.
“We won the league (ECAC) back-to-back times,” he said, adding those came in his final two seasons with Union.
The team also made three NCAA tournament appearances, and advanced to Frozen Four (the final four teams in contention for a national championship) in his Junior year.
Coburn said another highlight was “an outdoor game at Fenway Park beating Harvard University 2-0.”
Coburn played 153 regular season games at Union, scoring 20-goals, and adding 53 assists for 73 regular season points.
As for his future goals with the Tampereen Ilves in Finland, Coburn said he has only one, “to win a championship.”