GRAND FORKS, N.D. - During the past summer, Jeff Glass, goaltender for Canada’s National Junior Team, was not expecting to play much of a role, if any, in the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championship.
The Kootenay Ice netminder said he spent the summer working to improve his individual skills. People were watching, namely Team Canada staff, and noticed the maturation of the 6’2” native of Cochrane, AB.
“I think I was on the radar screen a little bit,” said Glass. “I think it’s a combination of a whole bunch of things. I just matured as a person and as a goalie. My whole game kind of came together.”
Although Glass had not been very involved in Canada’s junior program prior to this year’s World Juniors in Grand Forks, N.D., he is definitely turning some heads with his solid play on the ice.
The Ottawa Senators’ draft pick is the tournament’s leading goalkeeper. He has started three out of the four games for Team Canada, and boats a .917 save percentage and 1.67 goals against average.
With the solid play of the Canadian defence, one of the major questions Glass has faced deals with how he stays in the game when he faces very few shots. In his three games, he has turned aside a total of 60 shots.
He said facing the low shots has been an adjustment, but he finds a way to stay involved in the game in other ways.
“I just tend to play the game through my head and talk to the players,” said Glass. “I do what I can to stay in the game.”
Things may change for him, however. Team Canada is a little short on defencemen. Cam Barker is sick with mononucleosis and out of the tournament, and Brent Seabrook didn’t take the ice in the third period. Glass, on the other hand, doesn’t think he will have to face many more shots.
“They (defencemen) are well accustomed to playing 40 minutes a game with their clubs. They are all horsemen on this team. I think it has been a little more of an adjustment for them to play less.”
Adjustment has been a constant theme for Glass so far in the tournament. This is the first time the goaltender has taken part in the World Juniors. Obviously, it’s something a little different from WHL competition.
With help from the defence, Glass has not had a problem adjusting. “I think the biggest thing was the red line. I’m having a little fun with that, being able to make the big outlet pass. Other than that, our defence has been great for me.”
That’s not to say he didn’t have a few butterflies is his stomach before Canada’s opening game against Slovakia. Glass started out a little shaky in net, but has been more and more solid with each game.
“I think I’ve been stronger as the tournament has gone on. I was real nervous the first game, I don’t know why. It was just the pre-game jitters,” he said. “I shook that game off, and I’ve got stronger as the tournament has gone on. I hope to keep getting stronger.”
Glass and his Team Canada teammates have two days to rest before taking on the winner of a quarterfinal match-up between Finland and the Czech Republic on Sunday.