By James Hayes | Field Pass
1 On 1 with James Hayes | Jared Bethune - Macon Mayhem, Forward.
With the regular season completed in the SPHL, I felt it fitting to interview a member of the team that broke records this year. That team is the Macon Mayhem and the player is the left-winger out of Fort Frances, Ontario, Jared Bethune.
First off, I feel it's noteworthy to mention the Macon Mayhem set a single-season SPHL record for winning percentage at an impressive .810 mark. In addition to that, they also set a new league-low for goal against average in the regular season at an even more impressive 2.00 GAA in 42 games. Ok, enough about that now let's get to what you really came to read about and that is the story of Jared Bethune.
First question, tell me about your journey growing up in hockey.
JB: I really started skating and playing hockey when I was about 2 years old. I grew up on the outdoor rink in the tiny town of Fort Frances and I was just always at the rink for hockey. I spent so many hours out there that my parents had to get me a walkie-talkie. I had it down by the outdoor rink just so I could talk to them and so they knew I was ok. It was really my passion. I lived, ate, and breathed hockey growing up. When I was 12, we moved to a town in Minnesota that we really didn’t know much about called Warroad. It turned out it was Hockeytown, USA. It was a hockey move for me and my sister. My mom was able to get a job as a nurse and it was only an hour and a half from home. It was really a great move and everything just kind of played out perfectly.
I have to get this out of the way. Who was the team you pulled for growing up?
JB: Maple Leafs. I always loved watching Tie Domi, Darcy Tucker, and Mats Sundin. I'm still a big Leafs fan to this day and crossing my fingers they can make it past that first round this year.
JB: It’s kind of a weird situation that is hard to explain. Originally, I was committed to Minnesota Duluth. In Canada, I have what’s called a "status card" because I’m Native American. So, when we moved to the States, Team USA let me try out for them because there is a rule that states if you have native status, technically you have no border. I tried out for the World Juniors and made the U17 camp to go overseas and play the Four Nations Tournament. Right before I was supposed to go overseas, they told me I couldn’t play because I wasn’t eligible due to not having an American passport. Once that kind of came down, Team Canada reached out to me and said they would like me to go up there. I headed out there the next summer and went to their U18 camp where I was one of the last cuts. They told me that if I wanted to play for Team Canada in the World Juniors the next year, the WHL would really be the best move for me. That got in my head and was a big reason for moving out there. I started in the USHL and it just really never was the right fit either, so I left there and went to the WHL to play for Prince George.
Tell me about your time in the WHL
JB: I loved it. It was tough with the travel because we were a northern team. We had really good guys on our team and I loved my four years there. It definitely made you grow up a bit too. We played some really talented guys. A lot of those guys that are in the NHL now. You watch hockey now and you say "oh, I used to shut that guy down or take face-offs against him". I used to take face-offs against Draisaitl or play against Barza. It was just cool to be in that league with so many good players. I think it was really good for me when it came to looking into playing pro.
After that, you did some time in the ECHL as well as some playing time Queens University.
JB: So, I played 9 games with Allen Americans in the ECHL and I think 7 playoff games. Then, I just kind of decided after 4 years of juniors, with a lot of travel and a lot of hockey, I wanted to try school and start getting my education. I went to school at Queens for two years and my first year we ended up winning a championship for the Ontario League ,which was pretty cool. This year we had COVID-19 hit, so our season was cut short. I had a feeling with the way things were going in Ontario, that we weren’t going to have a season for our league. I made a decision early to sign with Allen in the ECHL. I went there at the beginning of the year, but with how crazy this year was, with all the leagues, I ended up coming down to Macon and have been playing here ever since.
I had to jump back just a bit at this point and ask, what were you studying at university?
JB: I was doing Global Development and Indigenous Studies. I was looking to go into law school, but then I took this year and probably next year, to try pro out again. I can always go back to that or go into business. I am taking a couple of courses right now just to stay fresh.
You landed in Macon. What brought you there?
JB: I went to training camp in Allen and my roommate there got me in touch with someone he knew that was coming to Macon. He got me in touch with Coach Kevin Kerr. I kind of just called the coach here and after talking to a couple of different coaches, they said this year was going to be a different kind of year with half the ECHL shut down. At the time, none of the leagues were going yet. This was going to be a good year to be trying out the SPHL and obviously it turned out to be a pretty good situation. I had about 3 days to make up my mind. I talked to Kerr, he is from North Bay, a little further north of Fort Frances, and I liked that. It just really felt altogether like a good fit. I was pretty excited to come here.
It's time to ask a lighter question, so who would you say you have tried to model your game after?
JB: I would have to say a power forward like Peter Forsberg. I watch a lot of his highlights growing up and tried to watch older clips from games with him. He is just a hard-nosed, two-way player with a ton of skill. His famous reverse hit too was pretty fun to watch too.
What would you say your favorite hockey moment to this point is?
JB: My favorite moments in hockey would be going to the Minnesota Wild camp. The other one would be winning the Queens Cup when I went to school at Queens University. Our whole school was there in a sellout at the rink and it was pretty cool. It was the first time in 30 or 40 years that our school had won the Queens Cup. Our coach had been coaching there for quite a while, so it was a pretty cool moment for us, and to see how much the town loved us. We got to meet the band The Tragically Hip and they congratulated us too, so that was pretty cool.
What’s your life like outside of hockey?
JB: During the season it’s a bit different with COVID-19 and the restrictions. A couple of us will maybe hang by the pool or play Xbox or go to the golf course. The summer is definitely a bit more busy. Last summer I was working carpentry and doing construction. This summer, I will be doing two summer courses, working for my dad, as well as training on top of all that. I also like to go fishing too. That’s another big hobby along with golfing.
So, there you have it. An in-depth look into Jared Bethune’s hockey journey that to this point, has lead him to the Macon Mayhem and looks to have much more in store. You can catch Jared and the rest of the Mayhem in action during the Presidents Cup Playoffs starting Thursday, May 6th at Huntsville with a 7:00 PM Central puck drop for game one of a three-game series between the two teams.
Photos courtesy of Bryan Meeks