Playing together through minor hockey in Cloverdale, Tyler Wotherspoon and Laurent Brossoit might just be teammates again later this month in Ufa, Russia.
The two 19-year-olds, currently with teams in the Western Hockey League, (WHL) were among the 31 players named to Hockey Canada’s Junior Team Selection Camp next week in Calgary, from which a team of 20 will be chosen to play at the Junior World Championships later this month in Russia.
While Brossoit is tending goal for the Edmonton Oil Kings, and Wotherspoon is a defenceman with the Portland Winterhawks, the two have a history of playing together. They spent their years at the rep level with Cloverdale Minor Hockey on Pee Wee and Bantam AAA teams, then were teammates on the 2008-09 Valley West Hawks Major Midget squad.
Even while on separate teams in junior, their pro careers may see them together again, as both were selected by the Calgary Flames in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
“We’re good friends, and our families are real tight,” said Wotherspoon from Portland Wednesday morning. “I’ve known him for a long time.”
The friendship endured last year’s WHL championship series, in which the Oil Kings edged Portland in seven games.
“It was great,” Wotherspoon said of playing against Brossoit in a seven-game series won by Edmonton. “He stepped up and made some big saves, I was very proud of him.”
At next week’s camp, which runs Tuesday through Thursday, Brossoit will be looking to avoid being one of the two goaltenders to be cut following the three-day camp. He is in a group with a trio of netminders from Ontario, and only two of the four will make the active roster, while a third will be chosen as an alternate.
Brossoit was part of a Hockey Canada junior team which played a four-game series with Russia’s national team last August, playing in a 6-5 loss in Halifax Aug. 13. He also was with the WHL select team, making 30 saves in a 1-0 shootout win over Russia in a Subway Series game Nov. 14 in Vancouver.
“It’s not entirely unexpected, but it is a relief to get the call,” said Brossoit of the invitation to Calgary. “It’s not just the Subway series, it’s all that I’ve done this season. They (Hockey Canada) have been in contact with me all along.”
Wotherspoon has a slightly larger challenge to be part of the Canadian team. A dozen blueliners will be in Calgary, eight of them 19 years of age, two of which were members of last year’s team which won a bronze medal in Calgary/Edmonton. At least seven, possibly eight, defenceman will be selected to the team.
“Obviously I’ve looked at the list of players, to see if I knew anyone and who else was invited,” he said.
“But I’ll just do what I always do, and work hard and play as well as I can. I just have to do my best and leave the hard decisions up to them.”
While both players have experienced international hockey, a three-day camp that presents an opportunity of a lifetime will be difficult mentally.
“There’s always pressure, but I’m a goalie and I feel it all the time,” said Brossoit. “I felt it in the Subway Series. I feel the pressure, but I’m also confident. It’s just a ‘go and do your thing’ situation, I just have to show my stuff.”