Barry Brust entered the 2002 draft rated the #22 North American goaltender by CSB and ended up being the fifth one taken selected #73 overall by the Minnesota Wild in the third round. He signed on with the Los Angeles Kings this offseason as a free agent and is now assigned to the Reading Royals in the ECHL. The 6’3 225-pound Brust put up great numbers last season with the Calgary Hitmen with a 2.24 GAA and a very solid .917 save percentage.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Brust following Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the Flyers affiliate the Trenton Titans. He entered the game ranked sixth in the league with a save percentage of .938 and ranks fifth in the league with a 1.72 GAA. In nine games he had only allowed 14 goals and had one shutout.
HF: Going back, talk about your draft day experience. How did you find out you were drafted?
BB: Well it’s actually kind of a funny story. I had gone to the draft and was interviewed by a bunch of teams and for some reason my agent didn’t want me to hang around because it was questionable if I was gonna be drafted on the first or second day, like the third, fourth, or fifth round. I guess he just didn’t want me to be disappointed. So I stayed around long enough and saw the first few picks, through the first round and then decided to leave. I had gotten to the Calgary Airport. I was waiting to go to Vancouver to see my brother. I got the call at the airport that I was taken in the third round. So that made the trip to Vancouver a lot better.
HF: Were you really happy or disappointed about where you got drafted?
BB: I thought maybe I went a little bit higher than expected. I knew where I was ranked, but you never know in the draft what’s going to happen. It was pretty exciting. Just a moment like that no matter where I was going to be taken didn’t matter. It’s a memory that will last a lifetime.
HF: Talk about the differences between playing in a hockey-mad area like Calgary as opposed to being in Spokane?
BB: Well, when we were winning in Spokane it obviously wasn’t too shabby when we were winning all those games. The fans can be pretty hard nosed type hockey fans. They really liked the rough stuff. In Calgary they seem to like the finesse game a bit more, see more skill on the ice. Calgary is just a great hockey city. They have some great sports and great teams.
HF: What were the differences in the coaches you had to both places?
BB: Each coach handles different situations a little bit differently. In Spokane it was a bit more of in your face where in Calgary it was a bit more laid back. He’d leave me alone and let me play. I think I did a little better when they just left me be.
HF: How does Coach Clancey compare with them and what kind of goals has he set for you? Rumor has it he can be pretty demanding.
BB: Coach Clancey, he’s pretty knowledgeable about goaltending. When coach Andy (Nowicki) was here (Los Angeles Kings goaltending consultant) he was expressing some things to Andy that made a lot of sense. It might have seemed odd at the time but I think it has turned out pretty well. I try to soak up whatever he has to say. He wants me to work hard off the ice as well as on the ice. I think they’d like to see me be in the top 5 in terms of work ethic on the team so that’s the goal I’m striving for and continue to work hard every day.
HF: So far your best year statwise in terms of GAA and save percentage last season was with Calgary last season, why do you think that was?
BB: I had about six defensemen that were all over 6’2 (laughing). We just had a very good defense. All of those guys were either drafted my last year there or the year before I got there. I can’t say enough about those guys.
HF: What made you decide to sign with the Kings organization as an free agent?
BB: They had called me pretty quickly when things didn’t work out with Minnesota so I talked things over with my agent and just signed on. Obviously they thought that they saw a very good opportunity there to play so I just wanted to take advantage of it.
HF: Were you disappointed that the Wild gave up on you so soon on your career?
BB: Yeah definitely, but they had called right after my contract was over and they congratulated me so there wasn’t any hard feelings when it was over. They treated me very well so I have nothing bad to say about my experience with them.
HF: What have the Kings talked to you about in your development?
BB: Well, the guys above me now are playing pretty good so all I can do is go out there and try my best and take in as much as I can here. If one of those guys go down I want to be ready if I get the call to fill the void the best I can.
HF: What do you like about Reading so far?
BB: Oh I like it a lot. You can see the fans here come out and support the team really well. What we had over 5,000 for tonight’s game and almost selling out every time. Their showing up makes it pretty exciting. I don’t know too many places that support a team like this the way they support us. They are great fans.
HF: What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses? What kinds of things do they have you working on in those areas?
BB: I think I play the puck very well. Tonight I know maybe didn’t show it (whiffing on puck). I know that wasn’t such a good example, but I also like to use my size to my advantage. I think coach Clancey and Mr. Nowicki have been working on all aspects of my game. There has been a lot of repetition so I really feel like they’re working on all aspects of my game. I’d like to think that I’ve improved in that area. I don’t know. I just know when Mr. Nowicki was here we worked a lot about when to come out and when to come back in so I don’t feel that it’s a problem necessarily. The game is changing so I have to change with it so we’re not really working in one area but I think I’m improving in all areas.
HF: What got you into hockey? How have your parents been in support of your career?
BB: I’m pretty sure my dad got me into hockey. I think he had me playing at about 4 or 5. I can’t say enough about my parents. They use to drive all the way down to Spokane to support me which was like a five hour drive so I can’t say enough to things to say about how they supported me. I don’t think they missed a game the whole time I was there. My first year there I didn’t play much, but my dad still drove down to see me play, so that tells you they’ve been nothing but supportive.
HF: Were you always a goaltender?
BB: No, no I wasn’t. I played out until I was about 11. I don’t know why I changed but I guess someone needed a goalie and I tried it. I guess I like the way the equipment looked on me or something (laughing).
HF: Who do you pattern your style after? Since you’re a butterfly style goalie did you pattern it after someone such as Patrick Roy?
BB: No, actually I liked Marty Brodeur, I think he’s awesome. I just love the way Marty can handle the puck, I think he’s awesome the way he plays. He might not be very flashy, but he gets the job done.
HF: The rumors are being talked about restricting how the goalie is allowed to play the puck behind the nets, making the equipment smaller, and even making the nets bigger. What do you think of those changes and how would they affect your game?
BB: Seeing how I like to play the puck a lot that might be the biggest adjustment. I’ve never really used that big of equipment so I don’t think that will effect me too much. I also think if they make the nets bigger I still have an advantage because of my size and I think I use it well. Hopefully they won’t make too drastic changes. Going outside of the crease is bad enough as it is because you can get hit so I think I can handle that as well. I just don’t want to see them take skill out of the game.
HF: Who was your favorite team growing up?
BB: I really liked the Penguins of the early 90’s. I don’t know why, I just did. Mario Lemieux, I think is awesome as well. I just idolized him. I also liked the Winnipeg Jets growing up.
HF: What obstacles do you see between you and your dream of playing in the NHL? There are other quality goaltenders in the Kings how well do you think you will have to play in Reading to impress the Kings to move you up the ladder?
BB: Well, there are a lot of things that have to happen first. Staying in great shape and doing the things that I’ve been taught will help me go along way I think. I don’t know if I have to play a certain way or do something in particular. I know Adam Hauser is playing very well and they have some other goalies that are playing well but I know as long as I continue to do well everything will fall into place. Everyone is pushing each other and that can only make me better.
HF: How would you like to play in a city like LA, even though it’s not as hockey mad as Calgary or any other Canadian city? Would you prefer a laid back town like LA or a hockey crazed city like in Canada?
BB: Well I’ve experienced Calgary which was pretty amazing so I know that I can handle that since I’ve already been there and done that. Yeah, there is more pressure there but I just think it all depends on the type of player you are. I’m sure every city has its ups and down so. When I was in LA it seemed like a really great place so. The city as a whole might not follow it as much as in Calgary but the fans are still pretty hardcore. There are like 10-15,000 fans that still come to the games pretty regularly so I think that speaks for itself.
HF: What did you learn from Cody Rudkowsky when he was here? (since called up to Providence of the AHL). Do you think that since you are now the starter that you will feel more added pressure since he was such a solid goalie for the Royals since last year?
BB: Cody was just the consummate professional. I just tried to be a sponge and soak it all up. I can’t say enough good things about him. We were lucky to have him around for as long as we did. I just tried to see what he was like in and out of the dressing room and be like he was. He left some big shoes to fill. I’ve been in a similar situation before. I will just try to take the ball and run with it. I’ll just try to keep playing the way I’ve been playing and go from there.
HF: Would you like to see yourself in a Kings uniform in like say three years or are you not going to set yourself a timetable?
BB: It’s tough because a lot of things have to happen. So many things that have to fall into place so well see how it goes. Guys come up, guys go down. You just never know what to expect. I’ll just do my best and see what happens. I’d like to get there as soon as possible.
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