Flames prospect Brossoit gears up for Team Canada selection camp
Only one of four goalies will be cut, giving Oil Kings ’tender good odds in Calgary this week
The criticism, the pressure, the big stage — the Edmonton Oil Kings netminder has experienced it all.
And, Monday, he’s bracing himself to go through it all over again in a bid to start in net for Team Canada at the 2013 IIHF world junior championships in Russia.
Thirty-six players, including Brossoit, arrive in Calgary Monday for the 2013 national junior team selection camp which starts Tuesday at WinSport.
“I’m so excited,” he bubbled. “It was a dream come true to be invited. I just have to make sure I can show what I can do to make the team.”
As luck would have it this year, mathematics are on his side. Because the tournament is in Ufa, Russia, Hockey Canada has said it is taking three netminders overseas for emergency purposes.
Brossoit is one of four at this week’s camp along with Owen Sound Attack goalie Jordan Binnington, Jake Paterson of the Saginaw Spirit, and Malcolm Subban of the Belleville Bulls. Brossoit is the lowest drafted goalie out of the group (sixth round, 164th to the Calgary Flames), but his resume is deep.
Earning the approval of Edmonton’s Rexall Place — which adopted the still-ongoing chant ‘L.B.’ — Brossoit played lights-out to lead his team to a 2012 WHL championship last season and Memorial Cup appearance, the club’s first in their modern day history.
However, at the national tournament, fatigue started to set in and his performance dipped as the Oil Kings bowed out. Following the Canadian world junior goalie camp and the Flames development camp this summer, he went to the Canada-Russia Challenge in August.
That, admittedly, wasn’t his finest hour. Questions were also raised early this year about his ability to come through in prominent games.
He battled through.
“To go in the summer and deal with that kind of struggle kind of helped me realize what I needed to do to get to the next level,” said Brossoit who played one game and let in five goals against the Russians but posted a 1-0 shootout win for Team WHL in November’s Subway Super Series. “I’m glad I went through those struggles and am going through struggles because it’s gotten me to where I am today.”
Which, given Canada’s recent issues in that area, adds all the more intrigue to this year’s junior camp.
“You have to know that,” he said. “There’s going to be even more pressure (at the world juniors) going into it because of the lockout and the last two years the goaltending hasn’t been too strong.
“I’m kind of looking forward to it. I feel like I strive in pressure situations.”
Consider this week the first of a month’s worth of pressure situations. Team Canada’s camp is short and sweet — one practice and an intersquad game Tuesday, the first round of cuts Wednesday, and the team is likely to be named on Thursday.
Last year, it was favoured Medicine Hat Tigers netminder Tyler Bunz cracking under pressure, which paved the way for Plymouth Whalers goalie Scott Wedgewood to make the team along with returning netminder Mark Visentin.
“The biggest thing for a goaltender in a situation like that is to not change a thing,” Brossoit said. “A lot of goaltenders go in there and try to up their intensity because they think the game is faster. You just have to do what made you successful and got you there.”
RATTIE BACK FOR ANOTHER ROUND
Airdrie native Ty Rattie has been through the drill before, cut as an 18-year-old and a victim of the numbers game last year.
Also, with the NHL generously loaning Anaheim’s Devante Smith-Pelly and Tampa Bay’s Brett Connelly, the Portland Winterhawks forward fell from the depth chart.
This year, his role is clearly laid out for him — a top-six forward that can score.
“So, I have to prove to them in camp that I can be that guy,” he said.
He proved a lot during the series against the Russians over the summer, finding open ice and helping pace Canada in scoring with three goals and two assists in four games. He and his linemates, Barrie Colts native Mark Scheifele and Saint John Sea Dogs forward Jonathan Huberdeau, combined for a total 14 points.
A year has passed since last year’s Hockey Canada camp and he’s 19 now, almost ready to wrap up his junior career. But Rattie still remembers the disappointment of getting Hockey Canada’s bad news phone call during the 2012 selection camp.
“Oh yeah, it hurt,” said the 32nd overall draft choice of the St. Louis Blues in 2011. “It hurt for a while, especially it being in Calgary and the chance to play in front of my friends and family. It stung for a bit, but it’s OK now.
“This time last year I was about 10 pounds lighter, but I also think I’m a smarter player and a better player. It makes a huge difference, what a year can do. I’m going to go in there and try to prove it.”
There are plenty of storylines at this year’s camp and, of course, no bigger than the NHL lockout.
If the labour impasse continues, Canada’s team is going to be bolstered because of it.
“They (the NHL) are kind of at a struggling point right now but it’s exciting for the junior level,” Rattie said. “I think that’s going to give Team Canada better players and a better chance to win.
“It sucks there’s no NHL but kind of a good thing for Team Canada.”
The last NHL lockout produced gold medals for Canada in 2005 (at Grand Forks, N.D.) and 1995 (at Red Deer, Alta.) ... Kelowna Rockets forward Colton Sissons was scratched from Team Canada’s selection roster with an upper body injury he suffered against the Moose Jaw Warriors on Nov. 30. His spot at camp won’t be filled ... Other locals representing this week at camp include Calgarians Hunter Shinkaruk, the Medicine Hat Tigers captain who is considered a high pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft, and Mathew Dumba, an 18-year-old defenceman for the Red Deer Rebels ... Also, Flames draft pick and shutdown Portland Winterhawks defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon will be one to watch.
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