Hockey Canada Selection Camp: The Goaltending Subplot
CALGARY, AB -- Hockey Canada will be bringing three netminders to Ufa, Russia for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship tournament but narrowing down that trio is an extremely challenging decision for the organization.
"We have four guys that are going to push for jobs here," Team Canada head coach Steve Spott said on Tuesday morning. "Contrary to belief, there is no starting job that has been given out. I can tell you guys that.
"That third goaltender is a unique position because he may not see any action at all. That is going to be a tough decision as well."
Calgary Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit (Edmonton - WHL) is competing for a spot alongside Malcom Subban (Belleville - OHL), Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound - OHL) and Jake Paterson (Saginaw - OHL) and all four netminders have impressive resumes backing up their desire to be Canada's starting netminder.
Brossoit was named the WHL Championship Series MVP after his stunning performance against the high-octane Portland Winterhawks. He has played for Hockey Canada at the Canada-Russia Challenge and posted a shutout in Game 1 of the Subway Super Series in November. The Flames drafted him in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL Draft.
Subban was NHL Central Scouting's top ranked North American goaltender heading into the 2012 NHL Draft and was selected in the first round by the Boston Bruins. He has a 15-7-3 record with the Belleville Bulls this year, posting a 2.17 GAA and a .932 save percentage.
Binnington, a 2011 St. Louis Blues draft pick, has a 17-6-3 record with the Owen Sound Attack this year and three shutouts to his name through 26 games played. The Gravenhurst, ON native made his professional debut late in the 2011-12 season when he suited up for the Peoria Rivermen. He stopped 35 of 38 shots in his first AHL game, a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Wolves.
In his first full OHL season, Paterson helped carry the Saginaw Spirit to the second round the 2012 playoffs after dressing for 42 regular season outings. He has suited up for 28 games this year and posted one shutout in that span. He was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft.
The Hockey Canada coaching staff and hockey operations held one-on-one interviews with invitees on Monday after they arrived in Calgary and that process will play a part in selecting the three goaltenders.
"They're like the pitchers in baseball; there is a lot of pressure on these guys," Spott noted. "You have to make sure that they've got the right mindset to handle the type of pressure that goes with being the goalie for this team.
"It's a big part of it - making sure that you've got the right character person. If he's going to be the starter, he's got to have the right mindset."
Spott brushed aside the notion that Team Canada's weakness in recent years has been goaltending, a topic brought up in his post-game scrum on Tuesday.
"This is a team sport so I don't think it's fair to put that on any goaltender. For me, I think you win as a hockey club and you lose as a hockey club.
"I think the challenge is creating more goaltenders but that's a minor hockey issue. If there are any issues with our own game at the minor level, it's creating more goalies."