The defence rests, Wedgewood is better in goal | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaThe defence rests, Wedgewood is better in goal

Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2011 | 12:00 AM

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Canada’s Scott Wedgewood, right, celebrates his 26-save shutout win over the Czech Republic with defenceman Mark Pysyk. Wedgewood didn’t start playing goalie until age 11. “I do remember the first time I put on the pads I fell in love with the position.” (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press) Canada’s Scott Wedgewood, right, celebrates his 26-save shutout win over the Czech Republic with defenceman Mark Pysyk. Wedgewood didn’t start playing goalie until age 11. “I do remember the first time I put on the pads I fell in love with the position.” (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

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Canadian junior goalie Scott Wedgewood patrolled the blue-line in his younger days playing AAA hockey in his hometown of Brampton, Ont. He didn't switch to the goalie position until he was 11.

So he has basically gone from being a defenceman to one of the top junior-aged goaltenders in the world in eight years as evident by his 26-save shutout performance in Canada's 5-0 win over the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Canada's latest goaltending hero is fuzzy on the exact details, but 19-year-old Scott Wedgewood does remember that when he first strapped on the pads a few years ago he instantly fell in love with the fine art of goaltending.

Wedgewood patrolled the blue-line in his younger days playing AAA hockey in his hometown of Brampton, Ont. He didn't switch to the goalie position until he was 11. So he has basically gone from being a defenceman to one of the top junior-aged goaltenders in the world in eight years as evident by his 26-save shutout performance in Canada's 5-0 win over the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

The enthusiastic crowd of 16,417 at Rexall Place in Edmonton certainly appreciated Wedgewood's efforts. They fans chanted "Wedgewood, Wedgewood" as the final seconds expired on Canada's second straight win at the 2012 world junior tournament.

"That was the fist time I've ever had that happen to me," the Plymouth Whalers goalie said. "It was surreal."

If the shutout wasn't enough, the New Jersey Devils prospect also picked up an assist on teammate Ryan Strome's important second-period goal to lift the Canadians into a 2-0 lead, exhibiting that maybe he could have made the Canadian junior team if he stayed a defenceman.

"I was a pretty good defenceman back then," he said. "But so far goaltending has worked out."
 
So how did the switch to goaltending occur? Well, Wedgewood remembers being entered in a three-on-three tournament with his brothers Mark and Paul as his teammates and their father Mike the coach.

"I was the youngest so they put me in net," Wedgewood said.

There also were occasions on one of his youth teams that in practice, Wedgewood would switch with his team's goalie, Brandon Carroll, and play net.

"I do remember it was right before my 11th birthday," Wedgewood said. "I don't know exactly how it happened, but I do remember the first time I put on the pads I fell in love with the position."

It was nice that his mom and dad and two brothers were in the seats at Rexall Place to enjoy the moment. He glanced over them after the game.

"I think they'll remember this as much as I will," Wedgewood said.

His outing against the Czechs certainly has made life difficult for Canadian head coach Don Hay and his staff. Do they stick with Wedgewood or return to Niagara IceDogs goalie Mark Visentin, the incumbent who also was solid in Canada's 8-1 tournament-opening victory over Finland on Monday?

Visentin also was in goal when the Canadian juniors suffered a monumental third-period collapse against the Russians in the gold-medal final a year ago.

Wedgewood has been the better goalie since the Canadian juniors assembled in Calgary for the selection camp on Dec. 10, and he outperformed Visentin in pre-tournament games, too.

"I like to play under pressure," Wedgewood said. "To stay calm in front of a crowd like that was tough at times, but I played well and was happy with the result."

So where will Hay go with his goaltending when Canada finishes out the round-robin portion of the tournament with games against Denmark on Thursday and the United States on Saturday?

"Where I'm going with it? You'll have to come to the game tomorrow to find out," Hay said.

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