Life lessons help define Oil Kings goaltender
Brossoit proves a pillar of strength for Edmonton in WHL playoffs
By Kristen Odland, Calgary Herald
April 17, 2012
The Edmonton Oil Kings will again count on goalie Laurent Brossoit, a Calgary Flames’ prospect, when they meet the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference best-of-seven final playoff which starts Friday at Rexall Place.
Photograph by: Bruce Edwards , Bruce Edwards
The story behind Laurent Brossoit’s junior hockey debut is a memorable one.
On the road at Spokane. Lit up for five goals on 22 shots. Age 15. Another Edmonton Oil Kings loss of lopsided proportions (11-2), back during the team’s grim days and the franchise’s second season of existence.
But, on this day, Brossoit insists on telling a different story.
Worse — if that’s even possible.
“Well, actually, I don’t know if you know THIS one . . .” the friendly, well-spoken goaltender begins. “But I was playing (BCHL) for the Cowichan Capitals and my first start I let in 13 goals. And we lost 14-0 against the Vernon Vipers who went onto the Royal Bank Cup that year.
“They were a good team. We came in, like, second last in the end . . . yeah, I was intimidated after that.”
Having only began organized hockey at the age of 10 and being a recent cut from the Oil Kings squad in the fall of 2009 — not necessarily correlated to his horrific Western Hockey League debut that February — Brossoit’s dad John suggested they drop him down to junior ‘B’.
The teenager was furious.
“I was so glad that he said that because I honestly was SO mad that he even considered it,” he recalled. “I had just got off from not making the WHL that year and I had gone down to junior ‘A’ thinking I was going to be a big star.
“But I just kind of got back into the saddle . . . no matter how bad it gets.”
Which explains Brossoit’s personal motto at age 19.
His relentlessness and competitive nature has the Calgary Flames 2011 draft pick oozing with potential after a career season with the (now) high-flying Edmonton Oil Kings.
“I’ve always been the kind of guy that wants to be better,” Brossoit said. “I always look ahead to a goal. Even then, I feel like I could maybe do better.
“For example, my goal this year was a .910 save percentage. I ended up with a .914 and I still felt like I could have been be better. Just because I wasn’t No. 1 . . .”
His recent efforts in a four game second-round sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings — including a 25-save effort in a 5-1 victory last Tuesday and a 6-0 shutout to close things out Wednesday — earned him the CHL’s weekly top goalie award.
In front of him, Edmonton has won 17 straight heading into the Eastern Conference final against the Moose Jaw Warriors. And in eight playoff games, Brossoit has a 1.50 GAA and a .941 save percentage.
And it all makes sense when you consider Brossoit’s quiet days — the off-season, practices, and in the gym — as the goalie tirelessly hones his craft.
“He’ll stay out there for hours until he gets it right,” said Edmonton goaltending consultant Dustin Schwartz. “I don’t like the word stubborn — I would say committed is probably a better word — but he makes sure it’s done right. He’ll do as many reps and will work through bad habits to make them better. Over and over again. If that means we’ll do an hour and a half goalie session, he’s all in.
“There’s no lack of commitment on his part to making himself improve.”
His phenomenal physical shape — six-foot-three, 200 pounds — is also the reason why he was able to carry much of the load and stay healthy throughout this season. But truthfully, Brossoit says part of his motivation also comes from his dad who battles multiple sclerosis.
“It’s really tough to watch,” said Brossoit who comes from a tight-knit family, including two sisters and a brother who live in Surrey with mom Tania. “Just hearing about it through my siblings, with me being in Edmonton and he being on Vancouver Island, it’s definitely one of the toughest things I have had to endure in my life.”
Recently, Brossoit said his dad underwent a new treatment in Seattle which has improved his symptoms.
Things are constantly in perspective for Brossoit, especially when it comes to overcoming hockey-related issues.
“He’s lucky he got the procedure done so he can get back to his own workout regime,” he said. “It makes you appreciate what you have and not to take anything for granted. You just learn how to deal with things and take the positives out of everything.
“My dad has taught me a lot.”
Amid the post-season and still a year away from the possibility of playing in the Flames system, Brossoit is also thankful for his early struggles on the ice.
“You want to face your adversity as early as possible,” he said. “Because, when it really counts, it’ll be your career and your job.”
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