Хроника Хоккея


For starters, it's Fleury: One of two young goalies gets the nod at worlds
26.12.2002. Zurkowsky, Herb. The Ottawa Citizen

 HALIFAX -- Marc-Andre Fleury said it might be the best Christmas present he has ever received: He will be Canada's starting goalie against Sweden in tonight's opening round-robin game of the World Junior Championship.

"When you watch the tournament since you were a little boy and you get the chance to play, it's great," the 18-year-old Sorel, Que., native said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Should Fleury falter, he might wish Canadian coach Marc Habscheid had put a lump of coal in his stocking instead.

Make no mistake. In a short tournament, goaltending often can be the difference between winning and losing. That's one reason why Finland, led by highly touted Kari Lehtonen, selected second overall by Atlanta in last June's NHL draft, provides his country with optimism entering the competition.

Goaltending might also have been a contributing factor behind Canada's failure to capture a gold medal since 1997, ending a string of five consecutive championships. "In this tournament, it's everything," said Blair Mackasey, head scout for the Canadian Hockey Association. "Good isn't good enough. You need exceptional goaltending.

"Our goaltending has been good. It just hasn't been good enough to win gold, taking nothing away from the kids who have played for us. You have to be outstanding, and we didn't get that in key games the last few years."

Canada's Pascal Leclaire was named the all-star goalie at last year's tournament. He allowed only nine goals in five games, but more than half of those were in the championship game, which Canada lost 5-4 to Russia after squandering a 3-1 lead.

His backup, Olivier Michaud, signed by the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent in September 2001, wasn't even invited to try out with Team Canada this year. Instead, Canada is pinning its hopes on Fleury and Cornell's David Le-Neveu of Fernie, B.C., two newcomers.

But that's of no concern to Mackasey, an assistant coach on the 1996 team that captured gold despite two inexperienced goalies, Montreal's Jose Theodore and Marc Denis, on its roster. "They weren't experienced, but the two were outstanding," Mackasey remembered.

"If Jose doesn't stand on his head against the Russians in the semifinal, we don't win gold."

Fleury, the youngest player on the team and the only one not drafted, will be one of the most scrutinized players in the tournament.

"I'm not so young. I've played junior for three years," he said. "I'll just go on the ice and play like I'm used to. There's not any more pressure."

The 6-1, 170-pound netminder is considered lightning-quick and has superb reflexes. He has the potential to be the top-rated goalie in June's draft, and certainly will be among the top 10 choices overall. Fleury has performed extremely well under the spotlight in recent weeks.

Fleury, who plays for Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, stopped all 21 shots he faced in a nationally televised all-star game against the Ontario Hockey League. He also didn't allow a goal in Canada's two pre-tournament exhibition games.

"He's a very quick and talented goalie," said Habscheid, quick to point out that Fleury hasn't been anointed the team's first-string netminder despite starting the opener. "He's very focused and doesn't want to let any goals in, whether it's in a game or practice.

"He's a very passionate guy."

Habscheid, who coaches Kelowna of the Western Hockey League, has the task of getting the 22 players to bond and play collectively in a short period of time.

It's a daunting task. This year's squad doesn't have the same star power or experience, with only four returning players. Someone will have to take charge and lead the offence.

"There's determination in the room. Wearing the maple leaf is special," said captain Scottie Upshall, who played eight games with the Nashville Predators before being returned to the Kamloops juniors. "We've got a good group of skilled guys who will play aggressively. I'm excited to see how we handle ourselves." 

Первая страничка молодежных чемпионатов мира 2003 года
Подгруппа А - подробнее
Россия, Швейцари, США, Словакия, Белоруссия
Подгруппа В - подробнее
Канада, Финляндия, Чехия, Швеция, Германия
За 7-10 места - подробнее
Швейцария, Швеция, Германия, Белоруссия
1/4 финала - подробнее
США - Чехия
Финляндия - Словакия
1/2 финала - подробнее
Россия - Финляндия
Канада - США
Финал - подробнее
За 5 место. Словакия - Чехия
За 3 место. США - Финляндия
За 1 место. Канада - Россия
Страничка статистики

Молодежные чемпионаты мира (до 20 лет) 2003 года.