Kings goaltending prospect JF Berube didn’t end 2012 as planned.
He had expected to be in Manchester the last few months, after spending his first pro season in the ECHL last year. However, GM Dean Lombardi and staff determined it would be better for Berube to play with the Ontario Reign again, rather than be a back-up to Martin Jones in the AHL.
Now, with the calendar turned to 2013 and the NHL lockout on the verge of ending, the situation has changed.
During the last Monarchs game, on Saturday, it was said that Jones had possibly tweaked his hamstring. MayorsManor has learned that while that is true, he’s expected to be fine by week’s end – and could most likely play in their game on Friday, if needed.
Of course, Jonathan Quick is coming off back surgery, so he remains a question mark at the moment for the Kings. Should he not be available for the start of the NHL season – thrusting Jonathan Bernier into a starting role – would Jones be called up to Los Angeles?
That’s a question best saved for later in the week.
For now, what is known is that Berube is on his way back to Manchester after being called up on Sunday.
Not only is this good news for Berube, it’s a move supported by Ontario’s coach, Jason Christie.
“I think it’s awesome,” Christie said. “I think it’s great for him to go up there. He deserves it. That’s why we’re here, is to develop the kids. So, hopefully he’s ready to go.”
Last season, Berube played 37 games for Christie, posting a 2.87 goals against average and a .907 save percentage.
“Maybe (I didn’t have) a good year compared to the expectations, but I still found a way to battle back in the second half of the season and (posted) decent statistics,” said Berube.
As noted in previous articles, it was really the tale of two halves for Berube. In the beginning, he was just working on getting his timing back following hip surgery in the summer of 2011. However, he was dominate at times in early 2012, a period where he drastically improved his overall stats.
“I feel more comfortable on the ice,” Berube commented, while discussing his recent play. “There’s no second guessing my movements on the ice. I’m not worried at all about my hip, I feel 100% and I feel better than before the surgery.”
After 17 games played this season, he’s 11-3-2 and has maintained a similar save percentage (.903) while lowering his GAA to 2.34 – better by more than half a goal compared to last season.
Saturday night, his final game with the Reign for now, was another stellar performance between the pipes. He only gave up one goal during regulation and then defeated the Alaska Aces after nine rounds in a shootout.
“It was an exciting game,” Berube said. “It was a really good game for both teams. It was intense.”
With another win in hand, he’s now on his way back to Manchester.
How much playing time he’ll actually get remains to be seen. Still, it’s a welcome promotion for the 21-year old goalie.
“I feel better every game, I feel stronger every game,” Berube explained. “I feel like I’m improving a lot. I think that’s the goal and hopefully good things will happen in the near future. But, for now, I’m just concentrating on my game and trying to keep it simple.”
Special thanks to Scott Coffman for contributing to this article.
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