VANCOUVER - Laurent Brossoit had some explaining to do at last spring's Memorial Cup tournament in Shawinigan and the questions weren't necessarily about his play.
The Edmonton Oil Kings goalie was besieged with interview requests by French-speaking reporters covering the event, most of them assuming he could handle the language. Laurent Brossoit? What could be more French than that?
Sadly for them, Brossoit had to reveal the family history. He was born in Port Alberni and moved to Cloverdale when he was seven. His dad was from Port Alberni. His mom was from England. Neither of his parents spoke French. His grandparents were the true Francophones in the family with grandpa from Montreal and grandma from a French village in Albertville, Sask. Laurent had learned some French in immersion classes at school but hadn't used it since Grade 9. He simply didn't feel comfortable.
“It was kind of tough to bring it all back just like that,” he said Wednesday, prior to starting against the Russians for Team WHL in the Subway Super Series at Pacific Coliseum. “But I told them I'd give it a try at the end of the tournament. Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the end.”
Brossoit and the WHL champion Oil Kings were eliminated 6-1 in the tie-breaker by the host Cataractes, who went on to capture the tournament. Now Brossoit, 19, is trying to make an impression on Team Canada selectors for next month's world junior tournament in Ufa, Russia.
At 6-3 and 200 pounds, he has the size and maturity. He was outstanding in the Oil Kings' run to the WHL title but faltered in the Memorial Cup (1-3-0) and had an audition last summer in the Canada-Russia challenge that wasn't to his liking (6-5 loss).
He is facing stiff competition for a Team Canada spot from Belleville's Malcolm Subban, Jordan Binnington of Owen Sound and Etienne Marcoux of Blainville-Boisbriand. Brossoit was a sixth-round pick of the Calgary Flames in 2011.
“I didn't have the outing that I had hoped for in that game,” Brossoit said, referring to the 6-5 setback. “So I am hoping to come back and get a little bit of revenge in this series. There is a little bit of extra motivation.”
Brossoit's biggest fan, not surprisingly, is Oil Kings coach Derek Laxdal, who is also serving as an assistant to Don Nachbaur for the Super Series. Brossoit was 42-13-2-3 for the Oil Kings last season and is 9-2-1-2 this year.
“He's got the right make up,” Laxdal said. “He's got size, which you can't teach, he's strong, which you can't teach, and he's athletic. Obviously his performance in the final against Portland was outstanding. He's also got a great technical game and great puck-handling skills.
“He's the type of kid who battles,” added Laxdal. “He's passionate about being a great WHL player and he wants to be an NHLer. He's very focused on what he wants to be and how he wants to get there. Obviously he's been a big part of the Edmonton Oil Kings and he's got an opportunity to perform well here and get a chance at the world junior tryouts. That's what he's looking for.”
Brossoit actually didn't begin playing hockey until he was 10, which put him four or five years behind most WHL stars. He played soccer and was a midfielder. Once he turned his attention to hockey, it didn't take him long to make an impression. He even had overtures to perhaps switch from Cloverdale minor hockey to the powerhouse North Shore Winter Club. He opted to stay home.
“I had a pretty good minor hockey career in Cloverdale,” he said. “The North Shore Winter Club did talk to me but I never ended up going there. I liked it in Cloverdale and played with Ty Wotherspoon (Portland Winterhawks). I am pretty close with him.”
Wotherspoon is also on Team WHL for the Super Series but wasn't in Wednesday's lineup. He is scheduled to dress for Thursday's series finale in Victoria.
ICE CHIPS: Brothers Griffin and Sam Reinhart were both in Wednesday's lineup, marking the first time they have played on the same team since Griffin was in major midget and Sam was a callup during the 2009-10 season. The boys are separated in age by a little more than 21 months.
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