Brust case scenario

STEVE MACFARLANE, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

It wasn't so long ago goaltender Barry Brust was toiling in 'The Coast' -- what most players call the East Coast Hockey League.

The former Calgary Hitmen backstop now finds himself on an entirely different shoreline as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

Despite the many miles he's travelled -- mostly by bus -- since the Hitmen lost to the Red Deer Rebels in the first round of the 2004 WHL playoffs, Brust has had a great start to what he hopes can one day blossom into a permanent NHL job.

"It's been a little bit of a rollercoaster," admitted the 6-ft. 2-in., 225-pounder, who has been pressed into duty because of injuries to Dan Cloutier and Mathieu Garon. He started between the pipes last night, allowing four goals in a 6-4 loss to the Flames.

"I've felt really comfortable. The boys have made my transition really easy. I've been fortunate, the performance that the team's put in front of me has just been astounding."

The 23-year-old from Swan River, Man., collected two wins and a shootout loss for the Kings in his first three starts and has also made a pair of relief appearances.

Brust has already turned some heads -- a highlight-reel save during an upset over the talented Sharks has already been posted on YouTube -- with his throwback goaltending style.

Among those impressed is former Flame Craig Conroy.

"He pokechecks, he'll two-pad slide -- kind of old-school at times," said Conroy before the Kings faced the Flames at the 'Dome last night.

"I said (goaltending coach) Billy Ranford has been telling him, 'Stack the pads.' He's made some great saves. It's a little bit more unorthodox. You're not sure what exactly he's gonna do so it's tough to go against.

"He still butterflies sometimes but he stands up a lot and then the two-pad slide across and makes huge saves.

"You look at the old-school guys, that's the way they used to do it."

Originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild, Brust was signed by the Kings as a free agent after the signing deadline passed in '04.

Because of the lockout, he was assigned to the Reading Royals in Pennsylvania for the 2004-05 season, where he posted stellar numbers over 42 games -- a 27-9-4 record with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.

It wasn't exactly his dream come true but Brust says he benefited from the experience.

"I think it's helped my development. I got a chance to play," said Brust. "The year I played there, it was the year of the lockout, so I think the talent level was a little bit deeper than what it usually is and maybe it was taken a little bit more seriously.

"I had a great time there and made a lot of great friends. I still talk to some of them."


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