January 4, 2012
Wedgewood shoulders blame in loss
By WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Scott Wedgewood was blindsided.
Team Canada's starting netminder was steamrolled by Russia's Alexander Khokhlachev in his crease after surrendering a fourth goal in Tuesday's 6-5 semifinal loss at the Saddledome.
After some attention from the medical staff, he was removed from the game with a neck injury.
"Unfortunately, I didn't see (Khokhlachev) coming, so I couldn't brace myself," Wedgewood said. "But that's playing hockey. That's the way it goes."
Wedgewood probably didn't see this coming, either.
After wrestling the starting job away from returnee Mark Visentin, the OHL Plymouth Whalers puck-stopper surrendered four goals on 13 shots in Tuesday's crucial clash with the Russians.
The Canadians trailed 2-0 at the first intermission and were facing a 4-1 deficit when Wedgewood was hurt midway through the middle frame.
Captain Evgeni Kuznetsov tucked two shots in the top corner, while Nikita Nesterov scored on a long blast from the point that seemed to change directions en route to the net.
On the fourth goal, what Wedgewood described as a "mental breakdown" by the guys in front of him resulted in a two-on-none, with Nail Yakupov feeding Kuznetsov for his hat-trick tally. To make matters worse, Khokhlachev was searching for a rebound and slammed into the goalie.
After watching the final 29 minutes from the bench, Wedgewood shouldered the blame for the early deficit.
"You've gotta be perfect almost in a game like this," Wedgewood said, "You can't really make mistakes like (allowing a two-on-none), but a lot of it goes on me, too. I could have stopped all four of those if I played it properly ... I take it on myself to try to stop the puck, and I came up short.
"I didn't expect pucks to bounce where they bounced, and unfortunately they weren't going my way. That's when you've gotta make your own breaks and battle for them.
"Unfortunately, I had to get out there but the team battled back so I was proud of the guys. I put them in that spot, but they almost got me out of it."
On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson