By Lindsay Kramer
At first, former Reading Royals goalie Barry Brust didn’t know if it was just hockey’s version of a kiss-off line. But he liked it anyways.
A few years ago, the Minnesota Wild, the team that took him in the third round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, told Brust the organization had enough goalies and wasn’t going to sign him. As he was headed out the door, Wild management told Brust that it still liked him and who knows what might happen in the future.
“It kind of softened the blow a little bit,’’ Brust said. “When you’re drafted, you obviously want to sign with the team that picked you. I didn’t know what was going on.’’
He figured it out quickly enough. In the short term, Brust had to find a new home. That came courtesy of the Los Angeles Kings, which employed him mostly with Reading of the ECHL and Manchester of the AHL the past three seasons.
Big picture, Brust learned that encouraging words are sometimes more than a salve. Last week he signed a deal with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate, Houston. The Texas Wildcatters are the ECHL affiliate of the Wild of the NHL and the Aeros of the AHL.
“There are 30 teams. To be a part of their organization is a little ironic,’’ said Brust, 24. “They showed interest, that’s all you can ask for.’’
Brust played in a total of 29 games last season, including 11 with the Kings, tallying a record of 2-4-1 with a goals-against average of 3.70 and a .891 save percentage. He also played in 18 games with the Manchester Monarchs, posting a record of 9-7-0 with a 2.40 goals-against and a .923 save percentage.
While Brust appreciated the 11 games with Los Angeles, his overall workload last season was a little light. That’s because with the Monarchs he sat behind one of the best goalies in the AHL, former Charlotte Checker Jason Labarbera.