Can Team Canada’s Goaltenders Lead the Team to Glory

Team Canada Goaltender Benjamin Gaudreau Stops Puck With his Stick
Team Canada Goaltender Benjamin Gaudreau Stops Puck With his Stick Photo credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

As we approach the start of Team Canada’s exhibition games in preparation for the 2023 World Junior tournament. The obvious question mark regarding this year’s team is at the position that matters most: Canada’s goaltenders. The team might not have the usual big names at the position as some other years, but don’t overlook this young duo. With a little spark to both, don’t be surprised they play a huge role throughout the tournament. Let’s take a look at each of Canada’s net minders as I share my in-depth analysis.  

Let’s start with the goaltender I expect to see the bulk of the workload at this year’s tournament, goaltender Benjamin Gaudreau of the Sarnia Sting. Gaudreau definitely has a bit of flair to his game, and he’s not one that’s afraid to make athletic saves to keep the puck out. The 19-year-old refers to his play as a butterfly hybrid style. The butterfly hybrid style mixes a stand-up goaltender and a traditional down-low butterfly goaltender. Gaudreau, who likes to play with a wide stance down low, also does pretty well-tracking shots up high and staying central to the danger. The 3rd-Round pick of the San Jose Sharks is definitely a goaltender I enjoy watching. Benjamin’s play style is very modern in terms of goaltending, and Gaudreau likes to be active at the top of his crease using his frame. So far, with the Sarnia Sting this season, Benjamin has a 3.62 goals against average and a .868 save percentage. My confidence in Benjamin Gaudreau mainly stems from his performance at the under-18 tournament. At the under-18 tournament with Canada, Gaudreau posted a 2.20 goals against average, and a .919 save percentage en route to a gold medal. Benjamin made numerous clutch saves and never really looked uncomfortable. Obviously, anything can change once the tournament kicks off, but my confidence in Gaudreau is extremely high, and I can’t wait to watch him in goal for Team Canada. 

The second goaltender on Team Canada’s roster is Seattle Thunderbirds goaltender Thomas Milic. Thomas is a goaltender that plays a less truculent style and relies more on his speed and coordination to stop pucks. Instead of attacking shots from the top of his crease, Thomas lets the play come to him, then uses his mobility and quickness. A skill that’s not as common in modern day goaltenders is what makes Thomas such an intriguing prospect. Of course, being passed over in the NHL entry draft has given Milic a spark. It could benefit Canada as well. So far this season with the Thunderbirds, Thomas has 2.35 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. If given the opportunity on the big stage, it’s hard not to trust in Milic to perform. My favorite thing I’ve noticed in Milic’s game when breaking down tape is his compete level. Despite playing a more relaxed style, Milic is always battling even when the situation gets tough. Milic is an athletic goaltender, and I expect to have a bright future. Hopefully, we get to see him at some point throughout the tournament. 

This might not be the most stacked goaltending prospects Canada has had from a pre-competition outlook, but I promise you these two can get the job done. The truth is, with the amount of star-studded talent on Team Canada’s roster, it likely won’t be as much of stealing games for the team but more of being there when the team needs to rely on you. I expect Gaudreau to get every opportunity as the starter to enter the tournament, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Milic gets in some action. Both of these goaltenders are mobile, athletic, and fun to watch! I promise you that you will fall in love with them soon.

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Joshua Anselmo

A hockey mind that's always looking at new and insightful ways to bring different perspectives of the game we all love.

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