ONTARIO, Calif. - Aware that players can be highly ranked, yet go undrafted, Reign goaltender Jean-Francois Berube was unsure of what to expect as he waited to hear his name called in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. It came in the fourth round as the Los Angeles Kings snatched him up with the 95th overall pick.
Berube Shining Under California Sun
Reign Netminder Heats Up as Playoffs Near
by Kevin Slusarski, Reign PR Intern
“I was expecting to go in maybe the fifth or sixth round, but I was really excited to see that I got drafted in the fourth round,” he said. “My family and all my good friends were there so it was a special moment for me.”
The big butterfly goalie returned to the Montreal Juniors for the 2009-10 season where he posted a 17-23-0 record. After his team’s season ended, he was assigned to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL and went 2-1-0.
Berube had a breakout year with the Juniors in 2010-11, recording a 2.60 goals-against average and .902 save percentage behind a 32-7-8 performance. The Kings were impressed and assigned him to Ontario.
Before joining his new team, Berube underwent offseason surgery for an injury suffered in the 2008-09 season while playing for the Montreal Juniors. The surgery left him with little time to get into game-shape and the injury was still in the back of his mind.
“You’re careful when you go down because you're waiting to see when it's going to hurt,” Berube said.
He got off to a slow start with a 3-6-1 record, a 4.02 goals-against average and a .858 save percentage through the end of December.
However, as he got back to full strength, Berube’s numbers greatly improved. Since the beginning of January, he’s posted an 11-4-3 record with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. He also recorded three of his four shutouts and had a 10-game unbeaten streak in that time.
The rookie goaltender combined with teammate Chris Carrozzi to set a new ECHL record with 224 minutes and 14 seconds of consecutive shutout hockey in January.
“I’m feeling really good right now. I don't question myself anymore. There’s no pain at all,” he said. “I worked really hard during practice to get back on track and I'm happy with the results.”
The Repentigny, Quebec native has enjoyed his Ontario assignment. He was pleasantly surprised to see that Southern California hockey fans are so passionate about the game.
“I thought hockey would be put aside a little bit,” he said. “But I’m really impressed that every game we have five or six thousand fans. It’s really fun to have all their support.”
Berube is looking forward to the Reign’s upcoming playoff run and hopes to help the team bring home the Kelly Cup.
“We have a good team,” he said. “We have good chemistry between the guys and it’s working well for us. I’m sure we have a good shot.”
During the summers in Montreal, Berube likes to golf and lake surf with his friends. He finds that just enjoying good times in the sunshine help to melt away the stress. However, he hasn’t had time to swing a club or try his hand at surfing the Pacific.
Guys are pretty tired after the games, so we just try to sleep and spend our time at the pool,” he said. “You know, try to get some of that vitamin-D.”
While Berube does plan to grab a board and hit the beach after the season, Reign fans are hoping he won’t have the chance until the end of May.