VANCOUVER — Cody Glass has a specific role on Canada’s junior hockey team — and it’s one he embraces.
“I know I’m a play maker,” said the 19-year-old centre, who’s playing on a line with Maxime Comtois and Owen Tippett at this year’s world junior hockey championship.
“They can finish, so if I can get to them in the right areas, they’re going to bury it.”
The trio had major success in Canada’s first two games of the tournament, with Glass and Comtois putting up five points each, and Tippett scoring a pair of goals.
Comtois credited Glass with making things happen on the ice.
“He makes everybody better,” the team captain said. “He can find Tippett and me pretty easily. He got a couple of huge passes for us since we started playing together. He’s a really good player and I have a lot of fun playing with him.”
Tippett agreed, saying Glass “has been a great player so far.”
“He’s good on draws, he makes plays down low, he knows where to find us,” the right-winger said.
Glass is no stranger to helping out his linemates and getting on the scoresheet.
He has 54 points in 26 games with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks this season. Last year he recorded 27 goals and 65 assists across 64 games with the club.
The Winnipeg native’s skill led the Vegas Golden Knights to make him their first-ever draft pick in 2017, taking him sixth overall.
He’s been to the Knights’ training camp twice now and played in some pre-season games this year. Ultimately, the club chose to send him back to Portland at the end of September, but Glass isn’t unhappy with the decision.
“Another year of junior, another year of developing, getting stronger always helps in the long run,” he said.
Canada coach Tim Hunter said the young athlete has gotten much stronger physically since he was cut from last year’s junior team.
“He was too light last year to play on this team,” the coach said. “He’s much more fit and much stronger and much more able to fend off checkers and make the play that he needs to make.”
Glass has improved so dramatically that Hunter even compared him to a hall-of-fame legend.
“He’s the Jean Ratelle of junior hockey today,” Hunter said, referring to the centre who played with the Rangers and Bruins in 1960s and 70s.
Ratelle was known as an unselfish and skilled player and the coach sees those qualities in Glass, too.
“He’s one of the most skilled guys on the team,” Hunter said. “He’s a calm, play-making centre.”
For the six-foot-two, 185-pound player, what’s changed isn’t his strength but his confidence. Glass said he’s more capable of keeping his mind right than he used to be.
“It’s a mental game out there,” he said. “Not everybody sees it but obviously it can be mentally frustrating for you. And I feel like I’ve learned to cope with it.”
Playing pre-season games in Vegas helped prepare for the pressure of playing in the world juniors, he added.
“It was sold out crowds so you learn to handle that there.”
The attention on young players at this year’s event is magnified with Canada hosting the event. But Glass said he and his teammates are simply focused on playing well.
“We just want to make our country proud,” he said.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press