No More Shootouts: Strong defence will be Canada’s backbone at world juniors

Head coach doesn’t want a situation where a hot goalie or a lucky bounce can determine a team’s fate

Canada’s junior hockey team has a simple rule for the 2018 world championship: No more shootouts.

Head coach Dominique Ducharme and his defensive corps have made it their mantra at this year’s selection camp after losing 5-4 in a shootout to the United States in the 2017 gold-medal game.

Returning defencemen Kale Clague, Jake Bean and Dante Fabbro, backed by incumbent goaltender Carter Hart, are determined to not let any games go that far.

“Going through what we did last year, losing in the final in the shootout, we’re not going to let those mistakes happen again,” said Clague between practices at the Meridian Centre. “Our big thing this year is we’re not going to even let it get to the shootout.”

Clague and Bean say that in Canada’s locker room no one wants to take any chances with a shootout, where a hot goalie or a lucky bounce can determine a team’s fate.

“(The shootout loss) fuels you every day to be on the ice, to do everything with that much more intensity, that much more focus,” said Bean. “Just try not to leave it down to questions, to that chance.”

REDA: B.C. players shortlisted for World Juniors

The pair of young defencemen echoed Ducharme, who also took last year’s loss as an opportunity to tighten up defensively.

“We’re not sitting here saying ‘God, we were one shot away in the shootout, can’t be any closer,’ which is true, but we don’t want to let it get back to that,” said Ducharme. “We want to be better. We’re challenging ourselves. As a coaching staff it starts with us but our players are doing the same.”

There are 11 defencemen attending selection camp, vying for just seven spots on Canada’s final 22-man roster. Clague, Bean and Fabbro are favourites to claim three of those spots having played in last year’s tournament.

Victor Mete just missed the cut for last year’s national team but earned his way into the NHL, playing 27 games for the Canadiens this season before Montreal loaned him to Hockey Canada on Monday for the world juniors. That professional experience is invaluable and also makes him a likely choice for the final roster.

Those four players will likely be the backbone of the team’s defence, which Ducharme says will emphasize speed and taking away opponents’ time and space to try to generate turnovers and feed Canada’s offence.

“I think we’re pretty deep everywhere but for sure we’re happy with the guys we have on the backend,” said Ducharme. “The guys that are possibly coming back and Mete and all seven or eight other guys that are here are all deserving. They’re in the mix of making the team.”

To Bean, the consistency that comes with seasoned players is the real value in having three returning defencemen.

“I think it’s good to have that experience but this tournament really evolves,” said Bean. “Guys get hurt, some guys are not feeling it, some guys are, whatever happens. To have that understanding and have three guys back there that have been through it before I think it gives us a bit of an edge.”

Fabbro sat out the first day of selection camp — a morning practice and another in the early evening — with an undisclosed injury that Ducharme said wouldn’t keep him out of the lineup long, joking that it was a “body bruise.”

Canada plays a collection of all-stars from Canadian universities on Wednesday and Thursday and then in an exhibition game against Denmark on Friday. All three games will be used by Hockey Canada’s staff to help evaluate its roster before final cuts are made after Friday’s game.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitewater’s Adam Kuch to compete at Freeride Junior World Championship

Kuch is one of four Canadians competing in his division

GREG SCOTT: Lack of snow threatens Nelson’s winter carnival

In 1970, the Winter Carnival Society was fretting over whether the third annual event would go ahead

Stepping Stones in need of clothing donations

The Nelson shelter is asking for help

Nelson launches citizen survey on climate change

Survey can be filled out online until Jan. 31

Province looking at steps to dissolve Jumbo resort municipality

Disincorporating municipality will likely require a legislative change, according to the province

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Interior Health issues drug alert in Kamloops

Testing of two samples of drugs sold as crystal meth was positive for fentanyl

Most Read