TRELLEBORG, SWEDEN – Jake Paterson seemed to be the underdog in Canada's goalie competition when the selection camp opened. Not anymore.
The Detroit Red Wings prospect made 23 saves in Canada's 4-1 win over Switzerland on Monday in what was the team's final pre-tournament test. Paterson also started Sunday's game against Sweden making 31 saves and providing the lone bright spot for Canada in a 3-0 defeat.
"My mindset going into it was that each goaltender would get a game and then whoever we felt deserved the opportunity to play the third game would be the guy and we'd see how he responds," said head coach Brent Sutter.
And Paterson responded well in allowing just one goal, which came while Canada was shorthanded in the first period.
"I thought he was really good again tonight. He's seeing a lot of pucks, a lot of pucks hit him in the crest and that's what you want your goaltender to do. He made a couple great saves for us at critical times. I've been happy with both our goalies, but Patty, the last two games, has been outstanding."
So will he start the tournament opener against Germany on Boxing Day?
"We'll wait and see. I haven't decided yet," Sutter said with a smile.
"It'd be an honour to be the starter," said Paterson, "but it's still up in the air and I'm not sure what the coaches are thinking so if I'm fortunate enough to get the call I'll be ready.
"Obviously when I found out the news that I was starting tonight I was pretty happy about it."
Zach Fucale also performed well in his pre-tournament start stopping 31 of 33 shots in a win against Finland on Friday. And the Mooseheads goalie has the better recent resume having helped Halifax win the Memorial Cup in May. The Montreal Canadiens prospect also has experienced success on the international stage helping Canada win the 2012 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic.
Paterson, meanwhile, has limited experience wearing the Maple Leaf. He was the third goalie on last year's junior squad in Ufa, Russia, but didn't get into a game. He was also a backup with Team Ontario at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg and didn't play.
But Paterson is a year older than Fucale and Sutter went with 19-year-old goalies in his two previous times behind the world junior bench in 2005 and 2006. And Paterson has shown he can meet the moment. He stopped every shot he faced during last December's selection camp in order to steal a spot from Laurent Brossoit. Now he may have stolen another job.