MALMO - Head coach Brent Sutter has made it official: Jake Paterson will start for Canada when it opens the World Junior Hockey Championship on Thursday against Germany. Goalie consultant Fred Brathwaite delivered the news to the Saginaw Spirit goalie on the ice at the start of Wednesday's practice at the Malmo Isstadion.
"Obviously I'm really excited to get the call," Paterson said after the up-tempo workout. "I'm ready to get focused and looking forward to the game."
The 19-year-old served as Canada's third-string goalie at last year's event in Ufa, Russia, but did not get in a game. He was also a backup and didn't play for Team Ontario at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. On Tuesday, Sutter noted that he sensed Paterson was ready for the chance to finally take the net in international competition.
"He feels like this is his time," the coach said. Paterson agrees.
"I think so," he said when informed of Sutter's assessment. "It's been a pretty long year from last year not just not being able to play, but having a sour taste in our mouth from a fourth-place finish so I'm definitely looking forward to getting things going tomorrow."
Zach Fucale will serve as the backup despite playing well in his pre-tournament start against Finland on Friday. The Halifax Mooseheads goalie has slightly better numbers than Paterson this season and is coming off a Memorial Cup win in May, but remained upbeat despite Sutter's decision. "Even though I won't be playing I think I'll be still important," Fucale, who is a year younger than Paterson, said. "I mean, I have to make sure I'm positive for the guys and always be ready. You can never know in these tournaments what can happen. Jake is playing really well, very sharp and we're all happy. All I have to do is make sure I'm ready and I'm ready to accept that."
In his two previous world junior stints behind Canada's bench, Sutter has opted to ride one goalie most of the way giving the backup just one start in 12 games.
"Let's see how Game 1 goes," Sutter said when asked if Fucale would get a start at some point. "I really don't know. You got to assume when you're playing a lot of games in a short period of time that you need both goalies, but we're going to start with Patty and then we'll make a determination who'll play in Game 2."