Canadian coach Brent Sutter has selected Steve Mason as the starting goaltender for the opening game of the junior men's hockey Super Series against Russia.
The eight-game series begins on Monday in Ufa, Russia, and also marks the 35th anniversary of the famed 1972 Summit Series between the two nations.
"I wanted to be the go-to guy and I worked hard all week in practices and I thought I looked good out there," Mason said.
The Oakville, Ont., nativeled the London Knights and the Ontario Hockey League with 45 wins last season. He was a third-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006.
The Russians can expect Mason, whohad 11 assistsin the OHL regular season and playoffs, to handle the puck often.
"I used to be a player for five years before I started to switch over to a goalie and I always enjoyed it," Mason said. "Even after practices nowadays, I go out after the guys and skate around with my stick and puck.
"My coaches joke around and say they're going to put me on the power play. I got a pretty good shot. I just like to have fun and it helps out with my game, too."
The netminder sees his puck handling skills as an assist to his team.
"It would definitely help out the defenceman even through they are all great defencemen," he said. "It would help with the breakouts and setting up plays. I don't know what ice conditions are going to be like, but it would help out I think."
On Saturday, Canada named Vancouver Giants forward Milan Lucic as captain.
After the opening contest, the Super Series continues on Wednesday in Ufa — about 1,300 kilometres east of Moscow. Games 3 and 4 will be Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 in Omsk, which is another 1,300 kilometres east of that.
The four games in Canada will be held in Winnipeg (Sept. 4), Saskatoon (Sept. 5), Red Deer, Alta., (Sept. 7) and Vancouver (Sept. 9).