Need two No. 1 guys: Mackasey

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Fear not, Blair Mackasey knows exactly what he's looking for. During the next couple of days, Canada's entry for the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championship in Grand Forks, N.D., and Thief River Falls, Minn., will be down to the two goalies from the four WHL candidates currently vying for jobs.

For the first time in several years, there is no clear favourite to emerge as the No. 1 netminder and it's quite possible each of the two goalies will get a start in the first two tournament games and see where it goes from there.

"It's a different mentality ... we're not looking for a goaltender who is going to be pelted with 50 shots and gives up five goals," said Mackasey, Hockey Canada's head scout since June of 2002. "We're looking for a goaltender that is going to get 20 or 25 shots and can't afford to give up more than one or two.

"My criteria for a goaltender at this level is simple, you need two goaltenders who are capable of being the No. 1 guy and you need a guy who at some point during the tournament can win a game for you on his own."

Pivotal

The four men competing for the pivotal positions are Jeff Glass of the Kootenay Ice, Kevin Nastiuk of the Medicine Hat Tigers, Devan Dubnyk of the Kamloops Blazers and Rejean Beauchemin of the Prince Albert Raiders.

Beauchemin, a Winnipeg product, came out of the summer evaluation camp as the leading candidate but he's not a lock to be on the club.

"It's not like it's a bummer playing for my team in Prince Albert, but it's an honour to be on the ice with players of this calibre," said Beauchemin. "Wherever you are and whatever team you're playing for, you've got to perform."

Dubnyk, who was born in Regina and lived in Winnipeg for six months as a youngster, is the only 18-year-old among the bunch but doesn't think his age will be a factor.

"It's a friendly battle, it's exciting for all of us," said Dubnyk, who was the CHL scholastic player of the year last season.

Nastiuk has the most victories (15) and shutouts (seven) among the group and also led the Tigers to victory over head coach Brent Sutter's Red Deer Rebels in the 2003-04 WHL Eastern Conference final, something which could factor into the final decision.

"It might help a little bit," said Nastiuk. "I know what I'm capable of, you just have to go out and have some fun. That's what it's all about. You have to relax and play your game."

Glass, the only one of the four netminders who hasn't represented Canada previously, says the goalies are trying to make the final choice as difficult as possible.


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