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
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
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
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