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Heat the latest stop in shared hockey journey for Wotherspoon, Brossoit
Tyler Wotherspoon and Laurent Brossoit's hockey careers, to this point, have been scripted like a buddy movie.
Not even Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in their Lethal Weapon heyday were as closely linked as these two.
Born 13 days apart in March of 1993 in Surrey, Wotherspoon and Brossoit first got acquainted as second-year atom teammates in the Cloverdale Minor Hockey Association. Turned out, their houses were just five minutes apart, and they quickly became good friends.
Junior hockey pried them apart for a couple years, but they ended up facing each other in the Western Hockey League finals twice – Brossoit's Edmonton Oil Kings winning in 2012, and Wotherspoon's Portland Winterhawks gaining a measure of revenge in 2013.
In the meantime, they were both drafted by the Calgary Flames in 2011 – defenceman Wotherspoon in the second round, goalie Brossoit in the sixth – and they were nearly teammates on Canada's World Junior squad last season (Wotherspoon made it, while Brossoit was a late cut).
On Thursday, they shared the same sheet of ice once again at Abbotsford Heat training camp, and both believe they're better for having the other around as they embark on the first season of their pro careers.
"It's rare," Wotherspoon said, reflecting on the hockey-based kinship between the two.
"It's special for us to go through this awesome career together. It's sometimes hard for guys when you don't know anyone, and you're kind of feeling your way around.
"But when you go into these situations with a guy you grew up with and one of your best friends, it makes everything a lot more comfortable, and it's made this process a lot more fun for both of us. We've loved every part of it."
"We're fortunate to have that," echoed Brossoit, who posted absurdly stingy numbers with the Oil Kings last season – a 2.25 goals against average and .917 save percentage, to go with a 33-8-6 record.
"It's been cool, and we've been enjoying it. And we're going to keep enjoying it."
While Wotherspoon, given his extended stay at Flames training camp and the general lack of veteran depth on the Abbotsford blueline, is considered a lock to stick with the Heat, the goaltending situation is a little more cloudy.
Brossoit is one of two goalies in Abbotsford at the moment, along with Joni Ortio, which would be the end of the story if not for the fact that there are still three keepers in Calgary's camp – Karri Ramo, Joey MacDonald and Reto Berra. The Flames have made it clear they won't be keeping all three, so one of them will likely land in Abby prior to the start of the NHL regular season.
Heat head coach Troy Ward said he's not certain at this point how the organization plans to handle its goaltending depth – the third goalie has yet to arrive in Abby, after all – but it's not hard to envision either Ortio or Brossoit being shipped northward for a stint with the ECHL's Alaska Aces.
For now, Wotherspoon and Brossoit are both planning to live at home in Surrey with their families, making them the rare pro hockey players who will get to eat their moms' home cooking on a regular basis.
"I haven't had that in four years," Brossoit enthused. "It's probably a 25-minute drive (to Abbotsford), maybe 30 minutes. We'll be carpooling . . . It's awesome."
CUTS COMING SUNDAY
The Heat added three more forwards to their training camp mix on Thursday, as Max Reinhart, Michael Ferland and Corban Knight were sent down by the Calgary Flames.
Reinhart and Ferland both had stints with the Heat last season, while Knight is a rookie pro out of the University of North Dakota.
Their reassignments bring the Heat's camp roster to 31 players – 19 forwards, 10 defencemen and two goalies – with more cuts still to come from Calgary.
Ward will hold two more days of practice before thinning out the herd with cuts on Sunday.
"We're in a typical minor-league state," the Heat bench boss said. "I could cut players tomorrow if I wanted to, but I just think in fairness to the whole tryout thing . . . I just made the determination that I'd keep everybody around until Sunday and make our cuts then, and then start fresh."
ARSENE STILL SIDELINED
Abbotsford native Dean Arsene, in Heat camp on a professional tryout contract, hasn't practiced this week after sustaining head injuries during Sunday's exhibition game vs. the Utica Comets.
Arsene went straight to the dressing room after absorbing a hit from Utica forward Darren Archibald late in the second period. He received stitches to close a gash on his face, and Ward confirmed Thursday that he also sustained a concussion.
"He's got to go through a week's protocol," he explained.