With Canada finding itself unexpectedly now in the quarterfinals of the World Junior Hockey Championships, head coach Craig Hartsburg had to do some hard thinking on just who to start in the nets for his underachieving team on Wednesday.
When he was done with his contemplations, the name Steve Mason was provided as the starting goaltender for the must win game against Finland, the now necessary path back towards a gold medal shot at this years edition of the world juniors.
Mason who toils for the London Knights in the OHL and has been drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets will finally get to step onto the world stage and ready to do battle for three games in four nights if Canada is to claim their fourth straight World title.
Mason, who was given the start against Denmark on New Years Eve, played the Finns in an exhibition match prior to the tournament, so he'll at least be familiar with what may be coming his way. But that wasn't the determining factor for Hartsburg, who is impressed with Mason's size, puck handling abilities and competitive spirit.
All well deserved points of praise, but if his fellow Canadian team mates don't increase their efforts and begin to gain shots and goals on their competition, then all the stellar goal tending in the world won't make a difference.
Noting that Jonathon Bernier did nothing wrong, Hartsburg none the less has decided to go with a player that he's more familiar with in a must win game, having seen Mason on occasion in the OHL over the last few years.
Sixty minutes in Pardibuce on Wednesday will determine if that faith in him proves to be solid, or if the second guessing shall begin.
London Free Press--Junior hockey hopes rest on Knights goalie
National Post--Mason gets playoff nod for Canada
Winnipeg Free Press--Mason to defend gold medal hopes