And just like that a decision that wasn’t really a decision at all became, well, a decision.
After last night’s 5-3 loss to Sweden in team Canada’s final tune-up for the World Junior Hockey Championship, head coach Don Hay will likely spend the next two days mulling over which goalie he will elect to start in the tournament opener against Finland on Boxing Day.
Up until the second period of last night’s game it was all but written in stone that Mark Visentin of the Niagara IceDogs in the OHL would carry the torch as the number one guy just as he had done a year ago. One of four returnees from last year’s team, Visentin was the unfortunate soul who had five unanswered goals scored on him as the Russians erased a three-goal deficit in the third period to skate away with the gold medal.
This was supposed to be Visentin’s chance at redemption and his chance to erase that nightmare period that has surely haunted his dreams ever since, but sometimes what is supposed to happen doesn’t happen.
The 19-year-old native of Waterdown, Ontario must now face the possibility of playing a back-up role as he looked shaky in allowing four goals, three coming in the second period, against Sweden last night. Scott Wedgewood came on in his relief and steadied the ship allowing his teammates to close the gap with two third period tallies, but it would not be enough as a Mika Zibanejad emtpy-netter salted the game away for the Swedes.
With two days off before getting things going on Boxing Day in front of what is sure to be a raucous crowd at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Don Hay is now faced with what could very well be the toughest and most important decision he will have to make in the next couple of weeks. Does he go with the original plan of having Visentin be the starter, or does he pull the chute and go with Wedgewood?
Although it is to be expected that a player of Visentin’s caliber and experience on the big stage to rebound and be ready to go, the factor of who performed better must come into play.
In a game that will be of utmost importance against a dangerous Finnish team, don’t be surprised if Hay in fact does decide on giving Wedgewood the nod. Should he falter, Visentin will have had the time to put his poor outing against Sweden behind him, and with his experience at this level, he should have no problem stepping into the fire and performing well.
Either way, team Canada’s prospects between the pipes are very much up in the air.