International Ice Hockey Federation

Two from the Q

Two from the Q

Canada opens tournament with QMJHL goalie duo

Published 25.12.2015 23:32 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Two from the Q
Mason McDonald, named Best Goalie at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, joins Samuel Montembeault in Canada's first all-QMJHL World Junior duo since 2002. Photo: Jana Chytilova / HHOF-IIHF Images
In a throwback to the turn of the millennium, Team Canada will start these World Juniors with a pair of QMJHL goalies. That used to be common, but not recently.

Mason McDonald of the Charlottetown Islanders and Samuel Montembeault of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada will both be in uniform for Canada’s first two games against the United States (26 December) and Denmark (28 December).

It’s the first time since 2002 that both Canadian goalies will hail from the top Quebec junior league. That year, Canada used a tandem of Pascal Leclaire (Montreal Rocket) and Olivier Michaud (Shawinigan Cataractes) en route to silver.

However, this year’s situation arose out of circumstances rather than choice, and it’s temporary.

Mackenzie Blackwood of the OHL’s Barrie Colts was Canada’s projected starter, but was suspended for eight games for a slashing incident against the Sudbury Wolves on December 4. Since the IIHF and Hockey Canada honour league suspensions, Blackwood will miss two World Junior games. Canadian coach Dave Lowry is expected to give Blackwood his shot afterwards, however. Since Montembeault was a late addition, he could be the odd man out of the trio of 19-year-olds.

At one time, the QMJHL was considered Canada’s goaltending factory. The trend emerged largely from Patrick Roy’s excellence. Known for his butterfly style and burning desire to win, Roy backstopped the Montreal Canadiens to their last two Stanley Cups in 1986 and 1993, and added two more Cups with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and 2001. He set a record by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP three times.

Roy was not as successful in IIHF competition. He was cut from the 1985 World Junior roster team in favour of his future Avalanche backup, Craig Billington. Roy never participated in an IIHF World Championship, and came fourth in his lone Olympic appearance in Nagano 1998.

However, Roy, now coaching the Avs, inspired a generation of young French-Canadian goalies. At the NHL level, his most prominent successors included Martin Brodeur, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and Roberto Luongo. At the World Juniors, we witnessed all-Quebec goaltending duos such as Jose Theodore and Marc Denis (1996, gold), Denis and Martin Biron (1997, gold), and Mathieu Biron and Luongo (1998, eighth).

In those days, the theory went that Quebec goalies were more proficient because of the high volume of shots they faced in the offensively oriented QMJHL. Today, however, they’re no longer the force they once were. In Canada, both the OHL and WHL have improved their goalie coaching, and in the NHL, Finnish, Swedish, and American netminders are grabbing more jobs.

After Marc-Andre Fleury (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) backstopped Canada to silver medals in 2003 and 2004, no QMJHL netminder was Canada’s World Junior starter during its record-tying run of five straight golds (2005-2009). That said, Zach Fucale (Quebec Remparts) did his league proud during Canada’s return to the top last year, posting a 1.20 GAA and 93.9 save percentage.

McDonald, who was named Best Goalie at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, has put together a 3.40 GAA and 90.1 save percentage with Charlottetown this year, and Montembeault has a 2.79 GAA and 88.6 save percentage with Blainville-Boisbriand. Meanwhile, Blackwood has a 2.36 GAA and 93.2 save percentage with Barrie.


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