Goalie accepts challenge

RANDY SPORTAK, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Jeff Glass is well aware what the biggest question mark concerning Canada's world junior entry is.

It's not -- according to the pundits -- the defence corps, laden with hulking, physical, skilled teens just as adept at knocking off an opponent's block as they are at skating with the puck or shooting the biscuit.

Nor is the forward collection, skilled throughout and -- judging by yesterday's tournament opener -- capable of lighting the lamp almost at will.

No, Glass is all too familiar that the person most questions surround is the one he stares at in the mirror on those rare occasions he has to shave.

Well, he and fellow twineminder Rejean Beauchemin.

Ask any expert and they'll say goaltending is Canada's one potential Achilles heel during this Christmastime tourney in Grand Forks.

Yet, the Calgary product is more than willing to take what could be construed as a slap in the face as a challenge.

A challenge he's willing to face.

"Say what you want but it's one of those things where I'm going to do what I've been doing and what's got me here," said Glass after yesterday's win over Slovakia. "I've got myself a job by playing consistent and stopping the shots I'm supposed to.

"I'm just going to focus on a 7-3 win."

Didn't look at ease

Exactly what the Kootenay Ice netminder should have been doing immediately after.

However, yesterday afternoon's victory at the Ralph Engelstad Arena did nothing to dispel any critics.

The simple numbers, 20 saves on 23 shots, don't do it.

Nor did head coach Brent Sutter.

"I've seen Jeff play better also," Sutter matter-of-factly stated.

Curiously, Glass didn't look at ease until the game was actually on the line. With less than six minutes remaining and his team up a pair but up against a five-on-three for more than a minute, Glass finally appeared calm and collected between the pipes.

True, he only faced a couple of shots but was picture perfect making them and seemed relaxed in the process.

"It seemed like they couldn't get any really good shots," said the Ottawa Senators draft choice. "I think it was a combination of crappy ice and our penalty killers."

For so long, it appeared Glass was going to be almost a non-factor.

He only faced three shots in the opening period and his squad was up by a 5-1 count just past the midway point.

However, a late goal in the second period and another 1:13 into the final frame set in motion what could have been a frantic finish.

Sutter said more than a few skaters took it easy but Glass quickly took some of the responsibility on himself.


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