Laurent Brossoit has returned to the form that won the Edmonton Oil Kings the Western Hockey League championship last season.
And that was bad news for Team Russia.
Brossoit stopped 30 shots and all three shooters in the shootout to lead the WHL all-stars to a 1-0 win over the Nail Yakupov-led Russians on Wednesday in the fifth game of the Subway Super Series.
Brossoit stopped each of the Russian shooters in the shootout, including Yakupov, last summer’s first-overall draft choice by the Edmonton Oilers. He came in slowly but it didn’t fool the 19-year-old netminder.
“I had no idea what he was going to do,” said Brossoit. “I’ve never seen them, especially in a shootout. When he came down slow it was different, and I knew he had a lot of skill so I just made sure I watched the puck and I was lucky enough to get my stick on it.”
Brossoit, a Calgary Flames draft choice, hails from Surrey, B.C, not far from the Pacific Coliseum.
After a tough start to this WHL season he has been hot the last couple weeks heading into this series.
“I’m feeling way better than I was at the start of the season,” said Brossoit. “I didn’t get off, statistically, to the start I wanted to.”
Brossoit’s past experience and his recent play was the reason he got the nod to start over Eric Comrie, not just because of Brossoit’s connection to the Vancouver area.
“He’s got experience at the international level and is on the radar for the national team,” said WHL head coach Don Nachbaur. “He deserved the chance to be in the net and didn’t disappoint.”
“It was a perfect game for me,” said Brossoit. “I’m hoping to continue that for tomorrow.”
Hunter Shinkaruk, Mark McNeill and Sam Reinhart scored in the shootout.
“We knew how much speed and skill they had and they showed that all night, especially in the second period,” said Reinhart. “Both goalies played great and it was just a fun game all around.”
Though Shinkaruk’s goal was technically the winner, it was Reinhart that ended the shootout with the third tally, dekeing goaltender Andrei Makarov and sliding it around his pad.
“It’s the only move I ever really do,” said Reinhart.
Makarov made 35 saves for Russia.
Russia split the first four games of the Super Series, winning 6-2 and losing 5-2 to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and then swapping 2-1 victories with the Ontario Hockey League.
The final game of the series is Thursday in Victoria.
“To win the first one is behind us now,” said Nachbaur. “Now we have a chance to win the series tomorrow.”
After not seeing a lot of quality shots in the first, Brossoit came up big in the second period when Evgeni Mozer got a breakaway before stymying him with a pad save.
“The first period I felt a little bit sloppy, to be honest,” said Brossoit. “I was glad that I got my feet under me and started watching the puck.”
The Team WHL’s best second-period chance came with about six minutes to go in the period when Reinhart intercepted a clearing attempt by the goaltender and quickly shot the puck from the side boards but Makarov got a piece of it to keep the game scoreless.
“He misplayed the puck in the corner and I knew (Curtis Lazar) was going to the net and was pretty open,” said Reinhart. “I didn’t realize he went the backside around the net. It just missed and was too hard for Lazar to handle. Anytime you get an opportunity like that you definitely look to capitalize on it.”
The first opportunity to break the scoreless tie in the third came from Shinkaruk, the benefactor of a neutral zone turnover. However the Medicine Hat Tiger was robbed by Makarov’s flashy glove save with 13 minutes to go in the third.
Then the WHL squad got another odd-man rush off a turnover with 10 minutes to go. Mitch Holmberg was able to slide the puck over to Brady Brassart but he was unable to slip it through the legs of the Russian goalie.
With 4:18 remaining in regulation the 11,124 fans at the Pacific Coliseum thought their home side had finally scored by the referee immediately called it off, saying it was re-directed by a high-stick.
Yakupov, for all the fanfare, never got going in the game, being shadowed by defenceman like Ryan Murray.
“We paired up a couple guys against Yakupov,” said Nachbaur. “He didn’t score so they obviously shut him down. It’s not easy to do. If you fall asleep for a second and the next thing you know it’s in the back of your net. Our guys didn’t fall asleep.”