Patient Mason nets camp invite

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Steve Mason sat on the London Knights bench for much of last season, watching Adam Dennis play goal and wondering whether the Ontario Hockey League was the right place to be.

Mason is glad he did not get down on himself completely. Next week, the 18-year-old netminder will continue what has been a dream season.

The Oakville native yesterday was one of four goalies named to the selection camp roster by Hockey Canada for the national junior team. Mason and 37 others will begin competing for spots on the team in Calgary on Monday.

"I think it shows a lot about my character," Mason, who also spent some time with Junior B Petrolia last season, said of his quick rise. "A lot of guys might have given up last year. It definitely was not easy. I did start to question myself at times."

As expected, 16-year-old John Tavares of the Oshawa Generals was invited to camp. So were 11 players who won gold last winter in Vancouver.

Mason will try to become another remarkable goaltending story for Canada. He knows that each of the past two starters -- Justin Pogge last year and Jeff Glass in 2005 -- won gold despite being passed over for the summer development camp.

Mason, who played well enough in 12 games for London last season to be drafted in the third round by Columbus in June, was not at the summer camp.

"It gives me some confidence to know that I will go in on an even playing field," Mason said.

"With the Knights, I have quietly been able to do my own thing and get lost under the radar."

Why did Mason, who leads the OHL with a .924 save percentage and is 19-4-1-2 in 26 games, get picked by Hockey Canada head scout Jim Hammett?

"He has been outstanding with a team like London that plays pure offence," Hammett said.

"He sees a lot of shots and keeps his team in the game a lot."

The 22-player roster (two goalies, seven defencemen and 13 forwards) will depart Calgary Dec. 15 for Europe. Canada plays host Sweden in its first game of the 2007 world junior on Dec. 26 in Leksand.


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