Confident 'keeper

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Jeff Glass is well aware of the biggest question mark concerning Canada's world junior entry. 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 it the collection of forwards, 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 tournament in Grand Forks.

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

"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."

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 down five-on-three for more than a minute, Glass finally appeared calm and collected between the pipes.

"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 a non-factor.

He only faced three shots in the opening period and his squad was up 5-1 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 had it not been for key saves by Glass.

Where Sutter goes from here, remains to be seen but it's a good bet Beauchemin will be stationed between the pipes when the Canadians return to action tomorrow against Sweden.

"We'll make that decision (today)," Sutter said, refusing to tip his hand. "Hey, we won 7-3 and that is what's important. What we decide to do with our goaltending is day-to-day."

Rest assured, Glass will get another chance. Making it even better will be the fact his family will be on hand -- including younger brother Trevor.

"There were a lot of bounces and really funny stuff but nerves are no excuse, that's for sure," Glass said of his tournament-opening performance. "But I think it's something to build on.

"It's my first international experience and it felt good to get my feet in the water.

"Now I'm ready to go."


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