Sunday, July 14, 2013

Brossoit Shows He Has Plenty of Game

If being called up to play a game or two is referred to as 'having a cup of coffee', then Laurent Brossoit's WHL debut at age 15 was like having a steaming pot of coffee dumped in your lap.

It was Valentine's Day 2009 and coming off the bench in relief of Edmonton starter Cam Lanigan, Brossoit was lit up by Spokane for five goals on 22 shots. It was an inauspicious start to his WHL career but thankfully for the Calgary Flames goaltending prospect, it's not how you begin, it's how you finish.

Brossoit, now 20, was the Oil Kings No. 1 goalie the past three seasons and in his eyes, it's time to get his pro career started. While he could potentially return to junior as an overager, that's not his plan whatsoever. Brossoit says he's ready for the next level and by turning in two superb periods of hockey at the Flames development camp scrimmage on Saturday, he walked the talk, surrendering just a single goal, a beebee off the stick of Sean Monahan.

"I personally feel like I’m ready for that next level and it would be a bit of a disappointment to go back to playing junior. I feel like I’ve made my mark there and I want to move up now. That’s my goal, to move up to the next level," said Brossoit, whose WHL resume consists of 191 games, 44 coming in the playoffs.

The Flames Draft Day Steal

Brossoit was drafted by Calgary in the sixth round of the 2011 draft, 164th overall. The 12th goalie selected that year, he was coming off a pretty ordinary first year as a starter with Edmonton where he posted a 3.32 goals-against average and .887 save percentage.

However, the past two seasons, as a much improved Edmonton team reached the WHL final both years -- winning once, it's been a whole different story. The team was much improved and so was Brossoit who dropped his GAA the past two years to 2.47 and then 2.25, while increasing his save percentage to .914 and then .917.

"I’ve made some huge strides over my WHL career. The biggest thing for me is my mental game. In my draft year, that was one of my weaknesses," said Brossoit after Saturday's scrimmage. "Going so deep into the playoffs twice in a row was huge for my mental game, just learning how to stay focused and all that. I think I’m ready for the next level whether it’s in Abbotsford or in the NHL. To be honest, I’m happy to play anywhere that’s up from junior."

The way his career has blossomed, it looks like the Flames have got themselves a real draft steal, which is a general theme for that 2011 draft, the first for General Manager Jay Feaster, in which Calgary also plucked uber-talented Johnny Gaudreau in round four and grabbed stud defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon late in the second round.

"It does seem like a long time ago and I think I’ve come a long way," said Brossoit, recalling draft day, which was spent at his Grandma's house. "I like being considered the underdog. Being a sixth round, some turn a blind eye but I like it, it gives me motivation to prove people wrong, that I’m not just a sixth rounder."

Positive Flaming 'C' Debut

Brossoit played the first two periods of Saturday's scrimmage and was pleased with how it went.

"A little bit rusty but it’s always nice to get back into a game-style situation because in the summertime, you don’t get too much of that. Any goalie will say they love games more than practices so I was happy that today was scrimmage day," said Brossoit, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 205 pounds.

Included among his many stops were penalty shot saves off Roman Horak, Ben Hanowski and Johnny Gaudreau.

"Goalies enjoy them... if you’re stopping them," said Brossoit with a grin. "We hate penalty shots if we’re not feeling it and we’re getting lit up. But three-for-three, I felt pretty good."

He also admitted he wanted the Monahan goal back.

"I wasn’t happy with the goal I let in, going through the arm, goalies never like that so I wasn’t happy about that but I think I dialed it in after that goal and started feeling like I usually do."

The Surrey, B.C.-born Brossoit, who doesn't speak with a hint of a French accent, despite how his name is pronounced, says there are a couple big differences between what he's experienced this week at the development camp and what he was used to at practices in the WHL.

"The tempo is a lot higher and the biggest thing I noticed is the shot quality. The pro, that next level, the shots get harder and more accurate. You have to stay focused at all times, you won’t get those softies coming at you," he said.

Perfect Timing to be a Flames Goalie

The Flames goal crease is crowded, there's no denying. Assuming Miikka Kiprusoff doesn't return, there is still Karri Ramo fresh from the KHL, Swiss star Reto Berra, veteran Joey MacDonald and Finland's Joni Ortio. Yet, despite the mass of bodies competing for spots in the NHL and AHL, Brossoit says the opportunity could not be any better.

"When is the last time people in Calgary watched a Flames game without Kiprusoff being the starter? It’s definitely an end of an era and the start of a new one and I’m just happy to be a part of this rebuild and my timing couldn’t have been better to be in this organization, especially being a goaltender," Brossoit said.

He looks forward to doing everything he can to avoid a return trip to Edmonton this fall.

"Whether I’m good enough to play in the NHL or not, it’s totally up to them. Whether they want me to develop more or if I’m ready. It’s in their hands and I’m just going to play my best," said Brossoit. "They’ve made it pretty clear I have a good shot in Abbotsford. If I go back to Edmonton, I go back to Edmonton, I’ll deal with it when it happens."

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