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Brodeur finally living the dream

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Binghamton Senators callup Mike Brodeur gets his first shot at the big time tonight when he steps between the pipes at Scotiabank Place against the Minnesota Wild (Just Sports Photography).

Check out the NHL game notes for tonight's Ottawa-Minnesota matchup.

For Mike Brodeur, it's a moment that's been a long time in coming.

And that's a time frame that stretches well beyond the 13 games he's sat on the Ottawa Senators bench, watching Brian Elliott carry the load in the absence of the injured Pascal Leclaire.

But tonight, it'll finally be Brodeur's turn as he makes his National Hockey League debut against the Minnesota Wild at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).

The 26-year-old Calgary native has 172 games of professional hockey experience on his resume — all of it at the American or East Coast Hockey League level. But safe to say, he's never looked more forward to a game than the one he'll play tonight.

"It's something I've dreamed of my whole life," Brodeur said earlier today after learning he'd be making his first NHL start. "Ever since I was about five years old, I'm been dreaming about playing in the National Hockey League and tonight's my chance to do it."

Brodeur, a distant relative of the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur — the NHL's all-time winningest goaltender — would settle for just one victory right now. A seventh-round pick (211th overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, he parlayed a strong season with the Rochester Americans in 2008-09 into a job with the Ottawa organization this season.

Shortly before being recalled on an emergency basis when Leclaire went down with a fractured cheekbone, Brodeur was named the Reebok/AHL Player of Week for the period ending Nov. 8 — a stretch he and the Binghamton Senators concluded with a 1-0 loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs at Scotiabank Place.

Now the sixth-year pro gets to tend goal in the same building again, but under vastly different circumstances.

"The nerves are going to be there, but they work with you on days like today," said Brodeur, whose fiancee, Melissa Drover, will make it to Ottawa in time for the game.

"It's something I've dreamed of my whole life. Ever since I was about five years old, I'm been dreaming about playing in the National Hockey League and tonight's my chance to do it ... The nerves are going to be there, but they work with you on days like today." - Mike Brodeur
Brodeur has a room full of teammates eager to make his life easier tonight.

"We're excited for him," said centre Mike Fisher. "He's worked hard in practice and done a good job down in Bingo. I'm sure he'll play well tonight."

Senators head coach Cory Clouston isn't concerned that the 6-foot-2 Brodeur hasn't seen any game action since his callup to Ottawa nearly three weeks ago.

"I've seen goalies who have been out for a long period of time and they come back in with their best game," Clouston said after the Senators' pre-game skate. "(Brodeur) just has to play his game. He's a big goalie and he stays square to the puck. We faced him a few times last year down in Binghamton and he was outstanding.

"We expect him to just go in there and be solid and confident and we'll play well in front of him. You've been waiting your whole life for this game. Whether he's been up here for one day or six months ... he's just got to be focused and calm those nerves and just focus on his task."

Around the boards

Brodeur was drafted the same year that the Senators obtained Elliott with a ninth-round pick (291st overall) ... The Wild lost most of their equipment in a cube truck fire yesterday outside Scotiabank Place, but brought in replacement gear from St. Paul, Minn., overnight ... Fewer than 3,500 tickets remain for the game.

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