DeSerres ready for Spitfires

Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:20 PM ET

BRANDON — Jacob DeSerres isn’t planning on wilting under the pressure in what will surely be the biggest start to this point of his hockey career.

The Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender is clearly in the crosshairs as the host team prepares to face the Windsor Spitfires in Sunday’s championship final (6 p.m. CT, Sportsnet) at Westman Place.

The Spitfires lit the Wheat Kings up for nine goals in the tournament opener May 14, but DeSerres started that game on the bench as head coach and GM Kelly McCrimmon played a hunch and started Andrew Hayes instead.

There’s no question DeSerres will be between the pipes Sunday, and he can’t wait for another shot at the Spitfires.

“It means everything,” said DeSerres, who is 2-1 with a 3.49 goals against average and .882 save percentage in the tournament. “That (first) game, I don’t even remember anymore. It’s over and done with, and we’re a whole new team now.”

DeSerres believes he’ll need to play his best game of the tournament in order for the Wheat Kings to dethrone the defending Memorial Cup champions.

“In any final game, the goalie has to (play his best game) to win, and in this one in particular, everyone on our team has to have their best game for us to win — just like Windsor,” said DeSerres, who gave up four goals in 40 minutes of relief in the opener but responded with a 31-save shutout against the Moncton Wildcats. “It’s a big game, and everyone is going to be giving it everything they have. Everyone is going to be putting everything on the line and not leaving anything out there.”

There have been question marks surrounding the Wheat Kings' goaltending dating back to the start of the season, but McCrimmon made a move in mid-October to acquire DeSerres from the Seattle Thunderbirds.

DeSerres had lost the starting job to Winnipegger Calvin Pickard in Seattle and was looking for a fresh start.

He found one with the Wheat Kings, and after sharing the crease with Hayes for much of the season, DeSerres took over the starting job in the playoffs, starting 12 of 15 games.

“This is exactly where I wanted to end up, and this is awesome. I knew it would be a great opportunity,” said DeSerres, a third round pick (84th overall) of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft who remains unsigned. “This is what I’ve worked all year towards. I didn’t just hope for the best. I tried to do everything possible to be as prepared as possible. When I got my chance, I tried my best to keep it going and keep showing I wanted to be the guy.”

Going through challenges earlier in his Western Hockey League career have helped DeSerres prepare for this monumental moment.

“There’s adversity everywhere,” said De Serres. “I just had to stay strong and keep working hard. Most people aren’t handed a silver platter with a red carpet. Everything has made me better in the end.”

If the Spitfires think the Wheat Kings goaltending is a potential weakness, they weren’t letting on Saturday mooring.

“He’s a solid goalie and he played well when they needed him (Friday) night,” said Spitfires defenceman Ryan Ellis. “Our goal is 50 shots every game, and that’s what we’ve got to get against (DeSerres).”


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