Glass reinforces Canadian defence

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Jeff Glass has proven to be an immovable object at the world junior hockey championship. No wonder some chirping from the cheap seats hasn't upset Glass as he and his Canadian teammates head into the gold-medal game tonight against the Russians.

"He can say what he wants, I'm not going to get wound up," the 19-year-old goaltender said yesterday when told Russian star Alexandre Ovechkin is questioning whether Glass is up to the task of helping end Canada's seven-year drought.

"He's proven himself, he's a first overall pick, he's a great hockey player, but you know, I'm not going to get caught up in all that stuff. They can wonder . . . but it doesn't rattle me at all."

Ovechkin said Canada has good forwards and good defence, but nobody knows about Glass because he's seen only 71 shots, allowing six goals, in the five games he's played.

The harshest judgment of Glass came from Czech captain Petr Vrana after Canada beat the Czechs 3-1 in a semi-final on Sunday.

"We started with too much respect against this team and too much respect is never good," Vrana said.

"I think it was our fault because I think that goalie is the weakest link in their team. I don't think their goalie is as good as a lot of goalies in this tournament, but we didn't test him enough."

Glass, who plays for the Kootenay Ice, saw 11 shots that game, just four over the first 40 minutes.

"They can say what they want, it doesn't bother me," he said, breaking into a big smile. "It's something that comes with the role. I give that credit to our team. They've done a great job keeping the shots down and that's their job."

When it was mentioned to Glass he was smiling, he replied: "Oh for sure, why not enjoy that? What I am going to do, get rattled about it? That's not going to rattle me."

Because Canada has been doing such a good job limiting opposition scoring chances, Glass has almost become a forgotten man -- except when he's mentioned by other countries.

"That's fine, I don't mind that," he said. "I'm not here to get the spotlight. I'm here to win one hockey game and I'm not going to be satisfied until I do that."

Glass remained patient through all the questioning.

"I'm not holding back at all. I love how all these other players like to talk and it's fun to listen on the other side of it. It's motivation. Guys fuel off that and I'm one of those players . . . but I don't need to fuel their fire, they can fuel mine."

Canadian goalies have struggled in big games in recent world junior championships and they're usually the ones blamed.

Last year in Helsinki, the U.S. winning goal against Canada in the gold-medal game came when Marc-Andre Fleury attempted to clear the puck up-ice, but it struck defenceman Braydon Coburn on the shoulder and went into the net.

"I felt terrible for Marc-Andre," Glass said. "It was just a bad break. It's funny how those things happen at the worst times. There's nothing much you can do. He's a fantastic goalie and he's going to do great things one day in the NHL."

Glass expects he will be tested tonight more than any other game he's played here.

"I'm fully prepared for the challenge. When I first came to camp I knew that more likely than not the shot count was going to be low for most of the tournament, but there was going to be one or two games at the end that I was going to come up big and I'm very prepared for that. This is why you play the game, for these big games."

It may not rank with the gold-medal game at the world juniors, but Glass played in the longest game in Western Hockey League history.

The Ice and Kamloops Blazers played into a fourth overtime period in a Game 3 first-round playoff March 25, 2003, the Ice winning after 136 minutes 56 seconds.

Glass made 66 saves that night, one more than he's made in five games here.

"You draw back on little experiences like that and they all make you stronger. It was like a Game 7. You couldn't allow one goal. One goal was going to end the game and that's the way I'm looking at this game. We want to win 1-0 and that's the way I'm going to win the game."


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