Bertolucci adds key playoff goals to his game
Pocket-size bundle of energy plays many roles
LONDON, Ont. — There’s an old Belgian comic book hero called Lucky Luke, a Wild West gunslinger dude who is always referred to as “l’homme qui tire plus vite que son ombre.”
Literally, the man who shoots faster than his shadow.
Edmonton Oil Kings energy line winger Lucky Luke Bertolucci may not shoot faster than his shadow, but he can rip it when necessary. He proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt Sunday night, when he potted a pair of goals in a 5-2 victory over the host London Knights, including Edmonton’s first power-play goal of the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament.
And know this: in a skating race, you wouldn’t like the shadow’s chances of keeping up with the speedy Bertolucci, who plays right wing with centre Riley Kieser and left winger Mads Eller.
Bertolucci, by the way, is from the community of Montrose, B.C., near Trail, B.C. At five-foot-eight and 175 pounds, he’s a pocket-size bundle of grit and energy who is much appreciated by the Oil Kings. Every coach appreciates a dynamo like Bertolucci.
“He plays a hard game,” Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal said. “He’s been a big part of our hockey club this year.
“He kills some penalties and he scored a big power-play goal for us (Sunday) and got that running for us a bit. He’s the type of kid who just goes, he doesn’t quit.
“He’ll take (the defender) wide, he’ll attack the net. One thing I really liked (Sunday), I saw the intensity in his game and that’s important. You look at the velocity of his shot ... I don’t think he’s had that confidence in a while and confidence is key for those guys. Hopefully, that can continue (Tuesday) night.”
The Oil Kings, 1-1, after an opening-game loss to the Guelph Storm on Saturday, wrap up round-robin play Tuesday night against the Val d’Or Foreurs, champions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Here’s a sampling of Bertolucci’s thoughts, gleaned from a bright and breezy chat with reporters on Monday.
Q: Growing up in Trail, who were his role models?
A: “People like Kyle St. Denis and Craig Cunningham (a former Kelowna Rocket and Boston Bruins’ prospect, respectively, both from Trail). They played in the Dub (Western Hockey League) before me. Craig’s put together a great career so far, he’s in Providence, R.I (Boston’s American Hockey League farm club). Those are the kind of guys I looked up to.”
Q: Why does Laxdal call your line the “heartbeat” of the Oil Kings?
A: “I think we just try to stick to the basics, you know. We’re not a fancy line. We’re not out there trying to toe-drag or anything. We’re just trying to get pucks deep and keep it simple and do whatever we can to help the team win.”
Q: How did the chemistry on the line develop?
A: “Halfway through the season, we were put together. I don’t know if it was due to injuries or what. But our chemistry has grown. It started off maybe a bit shaky, but we’ve worked at it and worked at it. They’re my friends off the ice, too, so it came pretty naturally. Things have kind of taken on a life of its own.”
Q: Why are your playoff scoring stats so much more impressive than your regular-season ones? (Bertolucci scored six goals and 20 points in 63 regular-season games in 2013-14. He had six goals and three assists in the WHL playoffs and now has two goals in two Memorial Cup games.)
A: “I don’t know if it’s just that I get excited for the playoffs or what? I have noticed that, too. Now I just have to figure out my regular season and I’ll be good go to go.”
Q: Is it an adrenalin thing?
A: “Definitely. You grow up watching the NHL playoffs and you see that every game is such a big game. You just want to be in that kind of situation and try to take advantage of it.”
Q: Might the Memorial Cup be the pinnacle of your career? (Bertolucci, 19, is undrafted.)
A: “I don’t know what my future holds. I have been blessed so far. I’m not worried about it. I’m just taking it game-by-game. Hopefully, I can make an impact somewhere. I’m not worried about it. I’m just trying to help my team win right now.”
Q: What about the size aspect?
A: “I’m definitely not worried about that. When I’m on the ice, whether I’m going against (Nikita) Zadorov (London’s six-foot-five, 228-pound monster defenceman), or whoever, I don’t think, ‘Hey, I’m a lot shorter than this guy, I’m going to back down.’ I think, ‘I’m not the same size, I just go in there.’ Obviously, I don’t lay the body on them all the time. I just try to stick to what I’m good at, sneak in there and get the puck.”
Q: Who are your NHL role models?
A: “Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins winger) and Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens).
A: “His game, not all that extra stuff. They both work really hard, they’re both gritty, they both produce, and they don’t back down.”
Not unlike Lucky Luke, the man who shoots faster than his shadow.
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