Montreal Juniors starting goaltender, Jean-Francois Berube, is about to enter the most crucial year of his young career.
Berube has been invited to Hockey Canada's National Junior Selection Camp with the hope of earning one of two roster spots on a team that will compete in the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships. Three other goaltenders were invited to the camp; Olivier Roy (Acadie Bathurst Titan - QMJHL), Mark Visentin (Niagra IceDogs - OHL), Calvin Pickard (Seattle Thunderbirds - WHL).
At the start of last season Montreal boasted the strongest goaltending dual in the QMJHL (probably even throughout the entire CHL) lead by Jake Allen who held the starting role and Berube who acted as the backup.
Allen went on to win the starting job between the pipes for Team Canada at the 2010 WJHC. He was later named the CHL's Most Outstanding Goaltender.
Playing behind Allen and seeing what he was able to accomplish during the past 12 months must have motivated Berube to get to the level he's reached. No different than Allen, Berube's numbers haven't been mind boggling while playing for an average Montreal team during the past two seasons however he's shown the scouts he has enough poise to keep his team in a game even when facing 40 plus shots, a regular occurrence in Montreal last season.
During the 2008-2009 campaign Berube earned a 2.66 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. In 2009-2010 his numbers were slightly worse as he posted a 3.03 GAA and a .897 SP - this of course was due to playing with a younger / less experienced Montreal team compared to that of the prior year.
Berube's story has already played out like a fairy tale. He was never drafted into the Q. As a 17 year old he made the Juniors on a tryout basis. Then, after his rookie season, Berube was drafted by the LA Kings in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL entry draft. During the summer of '09 he was invited to Hockey Canada's goaltending development camp. In 2010 Berube was called-up to the LA Kings American Hockey League affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, and played in three games.
The next 6 months will be vastly important for Berube. Should he earn a spot on Canada's National Junior team the fairy tail story will become even better.