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Brossoit, Team WHL ready for Russia

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Nail Yakupov and Team Russia take to the ice for the morning skate on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 in Vancouver.

VANCOUVER - Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit is approaching Wednesday's start vs. Team Russia in the Subway Super Series like any other game.

But it isn't, considering he has revenge on his mind.

Brossoit, 19 and a sixth round pick of the Calgary Flames in 2011, got one start in this past summer's Canada-Russia Challenge, allowing six goals on 27 shots in a 6-5 loss that the Canadians controlled (except on the scoreboard).

Tonight, back home in Vancouver and with the Super Series at a draw, Brossoit is ready to go.

"I try to approach like any other game," he said, "but it obviously is (about) revenge, too. I have that feeling where there's some extra motivation to go out and beat these guys. I think that will help me in this game. I got the chance to play in the summer and didn't have the outing I'd hoped for, so I'm looking to get some revenge tonight."

As a product of Port Alberni, Brossoit grew up in the area and played his entire minor hockey career with the Cloverdale Minor Hockey program in Surrey -- a mere stone's throw from the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver's Hastings-Sunrise area, where Wednesday's game will be held.

With the Oil Kings Brossoit has only made one prior visit to Vancouver, making this opportunity even more memorable.

"It's huge," he said, smiling. "It's a huge honour and I couldn't have been happier to have represented (Canada) in the summer -- and I'm even happier to do it again tonight."

"He loves it out here," added Edmonton teammate Griffin Reinhart who, like Brossoit, grew up in the lower mainland (West Vancouver). "He has some family coming on, so I'm sure it's going to be a good game for him and I know he's really hyped up for it."

Brossoit, like countless others sporting the Team WHL sweater Wednesday, will be under a bit of added pressure. The Super Series is a prime opportunity for Hockey Canada to scout their options and see who is and isn't ready for the 2013 World Junior Championship.

In Brossoit's case, Hockey Canada's Goaltending Consultant Ron Tugnutt will be in attendance at the PNE Coliseum, surely scribbling in as much as his coil-bound Hilroy can handle as his search for Canada's starting goalie continues.

According to the coaching staff, Brossoit will get the start tonight and could get the call again tomorrow in Victoria. That's unlikely, however, considering draft-eligible Tri-City Americans goalie Eric Comrie should be given a shot as well.

"There are a lot of options and a lot of goalies out there that have a lot of potential," Brossoit said, speaking about the race to the 2013 WJC. "Jordan Binnington (OHL's Owen Sound Attack, St. Louis prospect) has had a good year, so has Malcolm Subban (OHL's Belleville Bulls, Boston Bruins prospect)."

"I'm going to try and not get too nervous," laughed Michael St. Croix, who's also hoping for the call to represent Canada in a month's time in Ufa, Russia.

Through 21 games in 2012-13, St. Croix leads the Oil Kings in scoring with 12 goals and 29 points. Like the Russians, he plays a skill game that should help deter (or counter) their opponent's dazzle. Still, out of his element or not, St. Croix is expecting a chippy encounter that should bring the Canada-Russia rivalry back to its roots.

"We're going to try and play the Canadian way," he said without hesitation. "We've got to stick to the system. [Russia] preys on mistakes. If we turn the puck over in the neutral zone, they can go down the other way and do some pretty special things. Our goal is to play well defensively and wait for the offence to come."

Head Coach Don Nachbaur agreed with his players' post-practice assessments. With limited practice time with which to prepare, video work has been a vital component to Team WHL's scouting reports.

To no one's surprise, Oilers prospect Nail Yakupov has been getting a lot of attention on the Canadian side.

"They have four lines that can score and can break the game open," said the bench boss. "They're very structured and very patient. They have explosive speed and when you give them time to open it up in open ice, they can expose weaknesses, too. There are a lot of areas that we have to pay attention to."

No matter what, Nachbaur wants his group relishing this unique opportunity.

"The bottom line is that we're not only representing western Canada, but all Canadians. If you go back 40 years to '72, every Canadian hung to that series. Even though we're the west today, I think everyone in Canada is paying attention to the series and the game tonight.

"Playing against the Russians is pretty special and it's a one-time thing for a lot of these guys."

-- Ryan Dittrick, | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick

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