KHL goaltender bats puck out of mid-air for early save of the year candidate

KHL goaltender Barry Brust used his stick to make an early save of the year candidate. After a puck deflected on goal, Brust flung his stick wildly at the airborne puck and knocked it clear out of danger.

If there has been a save early this season that perfectly represents what goaltenders are capable of, this stop by Barry Brust is it.

During a Sunday tilt between Brust’s Slovan Bratislava and Medvescak Zagreb, the 32-year-old netminder made the kind of save that will remain on his personal highlight reel forever. Following a blast from the blueline, the puck deflected off the stick of Zagreb’s Colby Genoway and was sent flipping through the air towards Brust’s goal.

In one motion, Brust swept his stick over his head, smacked the puck and sent it sailing wide of the net.

Making the save even better — especially for Brust — is that it came against a Zagreb club that he had spent nearly two seasons with before leaving the team in 2014-15. And though it was a great save, if Medvescak’s Patrick Bjorkstrand was able to smash home the rebound, we might be talking about this as goal of the year instead of an outstanding stop.

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Before heading to the KHL, Brust had his chance to shine in North America, but was never able to get footing in the NHL. Drafted in the third round, 73rd overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2002, Brust spent seven seasons in the AHL, including capturing a Calder Cup as a member of the 2010-11 Binghamton Senators. He also picked up the AHL’s Harry Holmes Memorial Award as the league’s best goaltending duo alongside Nolan Schaefer while with the Houston Aeros in 2007-08.

Brust’s only stint in the NHL came in 2006-07 when he played in 11 games for the Los Angeles Kings. His numbers were less than stellar, however, as he posted a 3.70 goals-against average and .878 save percentage. His last stop in the AHL came in 2012-13 with the Abbotsford Heat, but he has spent the past three seasons in the KHL.