Behind the Mask: Karel St-Laurent

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Karel St. Laurent has a 4-9 record with the Royals this season. (Candice Monhollan)

Karel St. Laurent has a 4-9 record with the Royals this season. (Candice Monhollan)

Reading Royals goaltender Karel St-Laurent is playing his first season of pro hockey after spending three years in juniors. The 21 year old from Ville Ste-Catherine, just outside of Montreal, has had his struggles through the first half of the season, but has recently started to turn things around.

St-Laurent recently sat down to discuss his life in hockey, from his years spent in Saint John to his experiences in net against the Sedin twins and the tough times as a Royal.

Candice Monhollan: How did you get started in hockey?
Karel St-Laurent: “My parents brought me for a skate at a local rink. That’s where I learned to skate and I just wanted to play hockey. I think I started when I was around 5. I started as a player and switched to goalie when I was probably 10 years old.”

CM: Why the switch to goaltender?
KSL: “I just tried one time. During a tournament, our goalie couldn’t make it. We had to dress another guy, so I tried. I liked it, so I just switched the year after. It was a good change for me.”

CM: Are you happy with the change?
KSL: “I’m happy with the change. I don’t know what I would have become if I was a player. I was a forward and I liked it, but goalie? I thought it was pretty cool.”

CM: Is hockey in your family?
KSL: “One of my brothers played and one is a referee in the NHL. I don’t think he played long. He wanted to be a referee. The other one just played for fun. Hockey hasn’t been a big thing in the family. I look at my cousins; they play, but for fun. I think I’m the only one in the family that made it this far.”

CM: What’s it like watching your brother, Francois, ref on television?
KSL: “It’s pretty special. Obviously I don’t follow him as much because I’m busy as well, so sometimes I don’t get to see the games, but when I have the chance, I’m definitely going to watch it. I’m going to see what calls he makes. I’m really happy for him. He’s living a good life with two kids and his girlfriend and they live in North Carolina. He’s set. He’s going to make that his living for the rest of his life and I’m really happy for him.”

CM: A lot of goalies are known to be odd or have superstitions. Is that you?
KSL: “I don’t do anything superstitious. I like to just warm-up with my music. I have my French music that pumps me up, but I have my headphones so the guys can’t hear that.”

CM: How were your years in junior with the Saint John Sea Dogs and Surrey Eagles?
KSL: “Saint John is like home for me. I plan on going after the season to spend two weeks with my billet and see the guys. I spent a lot of years there. I was drafted there when I was 15. I played there from 18 to the beginning of my 20-year-old year. When I went to Surrey, I didn’t know what to expect. They called me and they gave me a spot on the team. It’s a great organization. I’m just thankful to them. I wouldn’t be here playing pro hockey if it wasn’t for the Surrey Eagles.”

CM: How was your time at the Vancouver Canucks camp?
KSL: “The camp was unreal. It is a first class organization and they treat the guys real well. Even though they just lost in the Stanley Cup Finals, everyone had a smile on their face and they were all positive, even the veterans. I talked a lot with [Roberto] Luongo. The guy that really surprised me – was really a leader – was [Alex] Burrows. I like Burrows. He talked to every rookie and made sure they felt comfortable during camp. I thought it was really nice from him. It was pretty impressive to be on the ice with those guys.”

CM: Did you have stars in your eyes when you were on the ice with these NHL players?
KSL: “You train with them and everything, but there was one time where there was an exhibition game against Calgary and I was not playing. There were two games that day – we do that in camps – but I didn’t play either of those games and all the veterans weren’t going to play the game. For the practice in the morning, they put me in the group and I was the only one with all the Canucks. It was me, and on the other side was Luongo. I felt like I was part of the team. It was pretty amazing.”

CM: Did the Sedin twins take shots on you?
KSL: “They took some 3-on-0 drills with the Sedins and Burrows together. It was pretty hard. They didn’t give me a lot of chances, but I did really good. I did even better than I thought I would do. I was confident going in there because I had great summer training and I worked so hard with my goalie coach. Once I was there, I worked hard with Roland Melanson, the goalie coach there. He taught me a lot of things and I’m really thankful to the organization and to him.”

CM: What made you sign with the Boston Bruins organization instead?
KSL: “Scott Bradley, he’s a part owner and he is also a consultant in player development at Surrey, works for the Boston Bruins. I was at the Vancouver camp and then they sent me to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, and then we wanted a contract to play in the American League. The only thing they could give me was a two-way, so the first thought was to send me to Cincinnati. My flight was booked and I was leaving the next morning to go to Cincinnati and I got a call that the Providence Bruins wanted to give me a contract. We looked at the possibility of getting called up and I thought the chances were better going with Providence. It’s nothing against Vancouver or Chicago.”

CM: Your first pro season has been a little rough for you. How are you handling it?
KSL: “There’s nothing to worry about – I’m 21. If people want to worry about my season, it’s their problem. It’s a huge step to go from juniors to pro hockey. I know it’s been a struggling year, but I think I’ve proved something. I’ve shown that when you give me the net more than one time, I’ll get some momentum and I’ll get a good performance and that’s what I did the last two games and that’s what I plan on doing for the rest of the season. People are expecting a lot of things from me and I understand. Providence wants me to play some better hockey and I can’t blame them. They’re paying my contract. A lot of people have high expectations of me because in Vancouver it went really well. I impressed a lot of people. I even impressed myself. But I just turned 21. I didn’t plan on making the NHL tomorrow or next year. I’ve already said it and I’m always going to say it: I know I’m a long-term project. I’m a late bloomer. I know I’m going to work hard to make it. I don’t think I’m going to make it next year. I’m being realistic. But in a couple years, I guess, I might find myself with an NHL team.”

CM: Is it tough to tune out all the negativity?
KSL: “Those comments don’t really affect me. I think it’s funny sometimes because most of those people who throw those comments out of nowhere, they don’t know about hockey. Some people go a little too far. As an athlete, you just have to learn to deal with those comments. It’s going to happen. You can’t just have good comments when you’re an athlete. You’re going to get criticism and it’s fine. You have to live with it. You have to learn how to brush it off. I think I’m good with that. I use that as a motivation. It’s been an inconsistent year for me, but I’ve felt better every time I go into the net. There have been some rough times, but I don’t think it’s a disaster year. There’s a lot to learn and that’s what I’m going to do over the next years.

RAPID FIRE

Favorite food?
“Chinese food”

Favorite movie?
Law Abiding Citizen

Celebrity crush?
“Eva Mendes”

Phobias?
“I don’t like snakes.”

Any hidden talents?
“I have no clue. I guess not.”

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
“Cancun”

If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
“Bradley”

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
“The power to teleport myself.”

Best prank you ever pulled?
“On my old neighbors: My brother and I ordered pizzas from different places at the same time for the same address.”

Best prank ever pulled on you?
“Last year while I was in Surrey, the guys took my mask and put tape on it so I couldn’t see.”

If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
“Patrick Roy”

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Categories: ECHL, Features, Ice Hockey, Sports

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