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WJHC: Fucale to start vs. Slovakia; Sutter defends McDavid

TSN.ca Staff

12/29/2013 10:29:59 AM

Changes appear to be coming for Canada's World Junior team ahead of Monday's game against Slovakia.

After surrendering four goals on 28 shots in Canada's 5-4 shootout loss to the Czech Republic on Saturday, Jake Paterson will watch the Slovak game from the bench.

Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Zach Fucale will make his tournament debut, getting the start against Slovakia.

The 18-year-old netminder is not worried about having watched the entire tournament from the bench thus far.

"It hasn't been difficult at all, I think, for me," Fucale told TSN. "I just wanted to be supportive and stay ready all the time. Tomorrow I'm just going to get in the net and play the best game I can. That's all that I can really do."

The Canadiens draftee did stress the importance of coming up big against Slovakia, however.

"We all want to be in those big games and it's not the Finals yet, so tomorrow we have to give our best performance," he said.

Paterson has started every game since Canada's second pre-tournament game against Sweden on Dec. 22. In four games he has posted a 2.50 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage, posting marks of 3.00 and .885 in tournament play so far.

The change in net could also mean a different plan of attack for the Canadian defence.

"Zach plays the puck pretty well, so it almost makes it easier sometimes for a defenceman," said Canadian assistant captain Mathew Dumba.

The Minnesota Wild defenceman stressed that the Canadian team is confident in its ability regardless of who is between the pipes.

"We're very confident in both of our goalies and I think we played good with them both in the pre-competition," Dumba told TSN. "I don't think that's something we have to worry about at all."

Fucale last started in Canada's first pre-tournament game: a 4-2 comeback win over Finland. He stopped 11 of the 13 shots Finland threw at the net, steadying his play after a shaky start.

Does that mean Fucale could also get the start in the potentially-group-deciding New Year's Eve match-up against the United States?

"I don't know. I guess let's see how he plays and we'll determine that after the game tomorrow," said Team Canada coach Brent Sutter. "I told you guys at the start: I'm taking this game-by-game."

Coach Sutter also offered up some insight on the play of 16-year-old Connor McDavid on Sunday, telling TSN that there is little to worry about from the young sniper based on just the Czech game.

Sutter and McDavid spoke for a few minutes after Sunday's skate, the coach offering the following analysis.

"It's one game and you guys make a bigger deal out of it than it is," Sutter quipped. "He played 13 minutes last night and, yeah, maybe he didn't have the game that he would've liked to have, but, that being said, he's a very important part of this team and if it wasn't Connor McDavid and it was somebody else here you guys wouldn't even be talking about it."

McDavid split time with Taylor Leier on a line with Bo Horvat and Sam Reinhart late in Saturday's game, but would get the tap to be one of Canada's three shooters in the game-deciding shootout. His attempt would be stopped by Czech goalkeeper Marek Langhamer, opening the door for Dominik Simon's game-winner on the next attempt.