Gasper Kopitar: Forever Skating In Big Brother Anze’s Shadow

Ontario Reign center Gasper Kopitar, the younger brother of Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, scored the overtime
game-winner in his home debut, leading the Reign to a 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Bulls at
Citizens Business Bank Arena, in Ontario, California on January 5, 2014.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

ONTARIO, CA — Those who have brothers or sisters should be very familiar with sibling rivalry, and even having an older sibling who excelled in everything, and then having to follow in their footsteps with those huge shoes to fill.

If you think that’s bad, imagine being the little brother trying to live up to sky-high expectations set by an older brother who is among the best in the world in his chosen field or profession.

That is exactly what Gasper Kopitar has experienced throughout his life, dealing with stratospheric expectations as he follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar.

The older Kopitar, now 26 years old, is considered to be among the National Hockey League’s best players, and he has excelled at every level he has played at, whether it was back home in Slovenia as a teenager, two years in Sweden, and then in the NHL with the Kings, winning the Stanley Cup in 2012.

Those are enormous skate boots to fill, and the younger Kopitar indicated that unrealistic expectations nearly drove him away from the game for good.

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LA Kings Goalie Prospect J.F. Berube Pushed Hard To Take The Next Step

Los Angeles Kings goaltender prospect Jean-Francois Berube, shown here during the team’s 2013 Rookie Camp.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

LOS ANGELES — After completing an up-and-down—literally—2012-13 season, Los Angeles Kings goaltender prospect Jean-Francois Berube set his sights on taking the next step in his development—earning a spot on the roster of the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate.

But after being unable to firmly establish himself as the number one goalie with the Kings’ ECHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, over the prior two seasons, and especially with him not getting as much ice time last season as he did the previous year after spending several weeks with the Monarchs in a backup role, there were questions in the minds of the Kings’ brain trust about what the better move would be for Berube: do they get him more ice time by sending him back to Ontario for a third season, or do they have him play in a backup role at the AHL level with the Monarchs?

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LA Kings Looking For Goalie Prospect J.F. Berube To Step Up to #2 Position With AHL’s Manchester Monarchs

LA Kings goalie prospect Jean-Francois Berube, shown here during
pre-game warm-ups with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign.
(click to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan

LOS ANGELES AND ONTARIO, CA — For Los Angeles Kings goaltender prospect Jean-Francois Berube, the 2012-13 season was a step forward, but at the same time, it was also a mixed bag.

Indeed, Berube’s regular season numbers with the Ontario Reign (Kings’ ECHL affiliate) improved, year-to-year, but he played in considerably fewer games.

To illustrate, Berube, 22, played in 37 regular season games with the Reign in 2011-12, earning a 17-13-3 (and one shootout loss), with a 2.87 goals-against average (GAA), a .907 save percentage, and four shutouts.

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LA Kings Goalie Prospect Patrik Bartosak Is Returning To Red Deer After Quick Trip To Los Angeles

LA Kings goaltender prospect Patrik Bartosak
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net

EL SEGUNDO, CA — On June 30, 2013, when the National Hockey League held its annual amateur draft, the Los Angeles Kings picked up what looked like a huge windfall in the fifth round when they selected goaltender Patrik Bartosak (146th overall selection).

In 2011-12, the 20-year-old native of Novy Jicin, Czech Republic recorded a 2.75 goals-against average (GAA), a .915 save percentage, and one shutout in 25 games. Bartosak went on to top those numbers last season, earning a 2.26 GAA, a .935 save percentage, and five shutouts.

Bartosak’s 2012-13 regular season performance earned him honors as the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Goaltender of the Year.

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LA Kings Defenseman Prospect Nick Ebert Is Working To Make 7 A Lucky Number

Los Angeles Kings defenseman prospect Nick Ebert is currently
playing for their ECHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan

ONTARIO, CA — The Ontario Reign clinched the ECHL’s Pacific Division title back on March 9, and with their first round playoff opponent and schedule already set, young defenseman Nick Ebert, just up from the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (Canadian junior hockey league), is getting a chance to show the Reign, and more importantly, their parent club, the Los Angeles Kings, what he can do.

Ebert, 18, was selected by the Kings in the seventh round (211th overall) of the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft. The 6-1, 207-pound native of Livingston, New Jersey scored eleven goals and tallied 27 assists for 38 points in 68 games with the Spitfires this season.

Ebert’s best season with the Spitfires was in 2010-11, when he scored eleven goals and added 30 assists for 41 points, with 44 penalty minutes and a -2 plus/minus rating.

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