A year ago, Brandt Clarke could have felt sorry for himself. Ignored by Junior Team Canada, which had not even invited him to its selection camp, the defender chose to roll up his sleeves and now he is a member of the national team with, as a bonus, nine games of experience in the NHL.
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The news of his non-invitation caused a small uproar on November 30, 2021. Captain of the Barrie Colts and eighth overall pick in the draft of the Los Angeles Kings, a few months earlier, Clarke had 23 points in 17 games at the time of announcement of invitations.
Several junior hockey observers then expressed their disagreement with this omission.
Then, COVID-19 forced the World Juniors to be canceled during the tournament, to be postponed to August. Again, despite the absence of some players who were there in December, Clarke had again been passed over.
"I WAS FRUSTRATED"
"I was frustrated," revealed the right-handed defender. I felt like I could have been one of the best players on the team as much at Christmas last year as in August. But in the end, that's not the avenue they wanted to take, so I decided to use it positively.
“I said to myself: I will make my place in the NHL this year. And that's what I did. »
This is indeed what he did. After a good training camp, the Kings decided to keep him in the fold of the team, with whom he played his first nine games on the big circuit, collecting two assists, in addition to five games in the American League, where he had a goal and an assist.
A MORE MATURE GAME
"I had never really had an explanation, so I really used [being ignored] as motivation and decided to work on improving every aspect of my game, and I also have a lot worked on my character. If I hadn't done that, I don't think I would have been able to play with the Kings this year. »
The Californian team subsequently agreed to loan Clarke to ECJ in order to allow him to experience what he had not been able to do last year.
For Hockey Canada Director of Excellence Programs Allan Millar, the past year has allowed Clarke to work on some aspects that were missing last year.
“His game has matured a lot. His year in Barrie as team captain, then experience in the NHL and AHL served him well.
“We have always appreciated Brandt's game because of his skill and his ability to control the pace of a game, especially offensively. I now think his defensive game is underrated. Before, he didn't execute certain details, but the last year has made him more mature and complete. »