Team Canada's final game in the preliminary round of the World Junior Hockey Championship will be decisive in determining the quarter-final matchups, and head coach Dennis Williams will rely on goaltender Thomas Milic to face Sweden.
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Milic won the game against Germany stopping 14 of 16 shots he faced, after being perfect on 10 shots in relief against the Czech Republic in a 5-2 loss.
“I'm super excited! exclaimed Milic in a press briefing, according to the TSN network. I have family here, my parents. I am very excited to have the chance to make them proud, just like the rest of the country.”
"He was solid in net," Williams said. He's had two good days of practice, and as a coaching staff, we feel comfortable giving him this opportunity to lead our team on the ice."
One day at a time
Benjamin Gaudreau also started the match against Austria, winning 11-0. But the five goals he allowed to the Czechs certainly left the coaches wondering.
It should not be believed, however, that this vote of confidence in Milic will apply for the playoffs. Williams and his deputies will adjust after Saturday's game before deciding what to do next.
"I think it's still a daily discussion," Williams said. It's the same with attackers and defenders. We will approach the [Friday] game hopefully feeling good with our [game plan], knowing that we are going to have good opponents. And then we will meet with the coaches, and we will make decisions.
Sweden remain the only undefeated team in this tournament, although the Czechs managed to push them to their limits in overtime. The challenge is therefore real for the troop of the maple leaf, especially since the Swedish goalkeeper, Carl Lindbom, has conceded only two goals in three outings so far.
If several goalkeepers refuse to make comparisons, Milic is always happy to take part in this exercise. “He has a great tournament so far. I am going to war against him and the best will win,” said the Canadian masked man.
If he intends to win this battle, Milic will have to keep an eye on some players from the Swedish team, starting with defender Ludvig Jansson, his team's top scorer with two goals and five points in three games.