Cam gets the nod in net

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

HALIFAX -- After rotating goalies all the way through the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Moscow last year, it was Dwayne Roloson's "turn" when it came to the last one.

But Cam Ward got the call and backstopped Canada to the title in the gold medal game.

And Ward will get the call for Canada in the opener of the first IIHF World Championships ever held in Canada.

Coach Ken Hitchcock, who started his coaching career in Sherwood Park midget AAA hockey, has decided to go with Sherwood Park native Ward in goal for Game 1 against Slovenia here Friday.

"Cam gets the opener. Pascal (Leclaire) gets Game 2," he said of Sunday's tilt against Latvia.

"We'll make a decision after that about who gets the third game against the Americans," he said of the other team in Canada's group.

Ward, who took his Carolina Panthers to a Stanley Cup two years ago over Roloson's Edmonton Oilers, said finishing the season off with a championship is what it's all about and he's good with it whichever way it works.

"It's hard to have anything compare to winning the Stanley Cup but winning gold last year in Moscow was a close second," said Ward.

"I'm really excited about being here again. I think the way it's going to work with Hitch with the goalies is the same as the other players. You earn your ice time. At some point he's going to go with the hot hand.

"I'm good with Pascal. He has my support. And I think I have his support."

NOT WORRIED

Hitchcock says he's not worried about Leclaire if he should make Ward his go-to guy in goal if that's the way it works out.

He's not concerned if he doesn't play his own guy in goal he'll end up in the same situation as Pat Quinn with Curtis Joseph. After sitting Cujo down after one game at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games and going with Martin Brodeur the rest of the way, that relationship was soured.

"I think Passy knows. This has been a kind of a come-out-of-nowhere season for him.

"It's the first year he's been healthy," he said of the netminder who was 24-7-6 with a 2.98 goals against average for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season.

"He's here to learn as much as he can," said Hitchcock.

NO 'BIG DRAMA'

"I don't think I have the inside track because he's my coach," said Leclaire. "I don't think he's going to have to deal with big drama around the goalies.

"We're not going to create any goalie fighting," added the netminder who played three years here in junior hockey.

"I have a lot of great memories of Halifax," he said. And no, he didn't get the same spot in the dressing room that he had when he was here as a junior.

"Jason Spezza's got my spot," he said.

Ward was 37-25-5 with the Hurricanes with a 2.75 goals against average this year.

"Obviously you want to play. Obviously you come to this tournament anticipating playing, but when you come to this tournament it is first about winning," said Ward.

Not everybody in the history of every team Canada ever assembled has managed to check their egos at the dressing room door, but it sounds like these two are going to be able to do it.

And then there's Mathieu Garon of the Edmonton Oilers, who didn't get a minute in either of the pre-tournament games and came here knowing he won't see any action unless there's an injury.

Leclaire gave up three goals in his two half-games against Finland and Russia. Ward gave up two.


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