|Photo by Brad Watson / Calgary Hitmen
- Heading into Game 4 of the WHL Eastern Conference Championship Wednesday at Scotiabank Saddledome, MVP goaltender Laurent Brossoit has put the sting of Game 3 behind him.
The 19-year-old played well Tuesday night, but was chased after a second-period stretch in which the Hitmen scored four goals on only 10 shots. By night's end, Brossoit made 21 saves in a little more than 33 minutes played, but the damage had been done as Calgary built up a commanding 5-1 lead.
"It was tough," said Brossoit. "But over the past couple years I've really learned how to cope and deal with situations like this. At a young age I really struggled with it, but considering the adversity I've faced, the experiences I've had and the challenges I've overcome in my career, I've learned to deal with tough situations like this.
"That long run last year really helped. I'm glad that I've figured it out now and have grown leaps and bounds in my mental game, which is huge for a goaltender.
"I've honestly put it all behind me."
No one was pinning Tuesday's loss on the one they call 'LB,' but as a goaltender, when the lamp is lit on your watch, you want nothing more than to bounce back and prove it was a one-off.
Heading into Game 3, Brossoit hadn't allowed more than two goals in regulation time through 11 starts in the post-season. He had no chance on any of the Hitmen goals, except the fourth when Calder Brooks wristed a shot glove side from long range.
Head Coach Derek Laxdal granted him a reprieve: "LB was outstanding," he said. "He gave us a chance to win the game last night and without him, it could have been a lot worse.
"Given how our early power-play went, it could have been 1- or 2-0 Calgary but he shut the door and gave us a chance before (Trevor Cheek) scored."
Brossoit was, indeed, brilliant early on. Stopping three separate shorthanded scoring chances, including a dazzling glove save off Hitmen veteran Brooks Macek, he was the only one operating on all cylinders before the wheels came off completely.
Undisciplined minor penalties to Keegan Lowe (slashing), Mitch Moroz (slashing), Michael St. Croix (tripping), David Musil (roughing), Travis Ewanyk (roughing and cross-checking), TJ Foster (slashing) and Curtis Lazar (high-sticking) resulted in eight separate Hitmen power-play chances.
"The key word tonight is discipline," said Laxdal. "We're preaching that hard, but somehow we got away from it last night. Then, when we did have to chance to make a play, we were a little bit soft and didn't play the hard game we needed to.
"The kids have to learn from last night. We didn't have much pushback. We sat back and expected the game to come to us, so we've got to head into tonight with a sense of urgency to our game. It's either 2-2 or 3-1 going back to Edmonton. I'd rather see it 2-2 after tonight."
Of course, it doesn't all come down to coaching. The bench boss is hoping to see more from his veterans, and that kind of leadership can only come from within.
"Certain guys have to step up," said Laxdal. "We're talking about teenage kids and it's often hard for them to call each other out, but they have to at this point. Last year we had guys like Jordan Peddle and Rhett Rachinski who would stand up and take ownership of the room."
"We have a lot of guys that can step up," added Brossoit. "We try not to put the onus on one guy or a small group of guys because we all rely on each other to be leaders. But, there's no question that our veterans, especially, have to step up.
"We feel we have a lot more to give."
By his own admission, Brossoit is part of the group that has a lot left in the tank.
"We have a long history of rebound games and that helps a lot, knowing that we've done it before and can certainly do it again," he said. "Personally, I think I rebound well and I'm positive the team is going to do the same tonight."
Drafted by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round in 2011, he would like nothing more than to have a strong showing in the building he may someday call home.
"Being in the Flames organization, it's always exciting to come to Calgary," said Brossoit, who recently signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Flames. "It's that much more motivation per game to make sure that I play well and show the people here that I have a lot of potential in my game.
"I'm always excited to play here and I can't wait for puck drop again tonight."
Brossoit has a 9-1-2 record, 1.44 goals-against average and .945 save percentage this post-season.OIL SPILLS:
Captain Griffin Reinhart left last night's game in the third period with what is being described as a lower-body injury. In his place on the blue line, Stephen Shmoorkoff will make his WHL playoff debut. Luke Bertolucci was also injured in Game 3 after getting his "bell rung" early in the second period. As a result, Cole Benson draws back into the lineup.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick