Oil Kings keep Brossoit fresh because backup Jarry has excelled
Starting goalie has been impressive since being cut from Canada’s world junior team
Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit holds his ground against Colten Mayor of the Regina Pats during a Western Hockey League game at Rexall Place on Dec. 16, 2012.
Photograph by: Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - Well-rested and on top of his game, Laurent Brossoit is ready for the Edmonton Oil Kings’ stretch run.
The 19-year-old veteran Western Hockey League netminder is enjoying another strong season, sporting a .924 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average, which are both second among goalies with at least 2,000 minutes played this season.
The sixth-round Calgary Flames draft pick posted a .914 save percentage and 2.47 GAA last season.
It’s hard to ignore the correlation between the improvement in Brossoit’s sparkling numbers and his lessened workload as the Oil Kings get ready for the final 14 games of the regular season.
“I think, last year, (backup goalie Tristan Jarry) played 11 games and he’s played 22 so far this year, so L.B. should be a lot fresher,” Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal said when asked about Brossoit compared to the end of the 2011-12 season.
“Obviously, going into the stretch drive, Tristan’s going to get a few more games, so we know managing L.B.’s games has been a lot easier this year with Tristan stepping up.”
With Jarry first in the WHL in both save percentage (.938) and GAA (1.56), Laxdal has no qualms about giving his starter a few more days off here and there. It also helps get Jarry prepared for the starter’s role next season.
“To be honest, I feel quite similar,” said Brossoit, who’s played more than 600 fewer minutes compared to the same time a year ago. “Last year, I didn’t feel too fatigued going into the playoffs. It wasn’t until the Moose Jaw series I got strep throat. I had to play through that.
“That’s when my physical peak went downhill and, this year, I’m going to make sure that I don’t get sick and take care of my body a little bit better.”
Brossoit’s 3,574 minutes played last season were second-only to Edmonton Oilers prospect Tyler Bunz’s 3,616 minutes in Medicine Hat.
Asked if he played Brossoit too much in 2011-12, Laxdal said: “No, if you look at anybody else who’s come through the playoffs, they play all their goaltenders hard. It’s probably a development thing for L.B. to play that amount of games going into the playoffs and going into a championship series. It’s only going to help in his development.
“I think it’s helped him a lot this year, because he handles pressure a lot better.”
Pressure, from both the outside world and, more importantly, from within, is exactly what Brossoit faced in the first few months of this season as he vied for a spot on Canada’s world junior squad.
“Ever since I got cut from that team, it was just the extra little bit of motivation,” said Brossoit, who has gone 14-3 with a stellar .948 save percentage since rejoining the Oil Kings. “I kind of got over it pretty quick. I had so much support, it’s kind of hard not to look positively (on) it.”
Despite wanting to ride his hot hand by staying in the net night in and night out, Brossoit can see the value of having a little less time in the blue paint as a long-term benefit for both himself and the Oil Kings.
“If I could play 72 games a season, I would,” Brossoit said. “I love playing and, if I had the choice between watching on the bench and playing, I’d always pick playing, but for the team and for myself, it’s better if I don’t play them all.
“It’s always good to get the rest in and, last year, I played so much that my body wore down and that’s why I got sick, so this year the fact that (Tristan) can play and play in big games and give me the rest, it’s only going to be beneficial.”
After a 3-1 loss to the Swift Current Broncos last weekend, Edmonton returns to Rexall Place at 4 p.m. Sunday with Brossoit in net for a matchup with the Victoria Royals.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal