ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — You could do a lot worse than Colton Point and Carter Hart as rent-a-goalies. The pair combined for a 32-save shutout as a U Sport all-star team beat Canada 3-0 on Wednesday in the first of two exhibitions designed to help Hockey Canada evaluate players at its selection camp for the world junior hockey championship.
Because Canada invited four goalies to the selection camp all four played, with Point and Hart suiting up for the collection of players from Canadian universities and Samuel Harvey and Michael DiPietro taking the ice for the juniors.
"It was interesting at first, just introduced myself then said ‘oh, I’m playing for you, by the way,"’ said Point about walking into the U Sports locker-room. He started in net and stopped all 14 shots he faced in 30 minutes of work. "They were really good about it. I think they knew what to expect.
"Welcomed us with open arms and really made us feel like we were part of the team for the night."
Luke Philp, a forward for the University of Alberta, had the eventual winner for U Sports. Michael Clarke, from Acadia University, had an empty-net goal with 1:15 left in the third and then Logan McVeigh, of the University of Saskatchewan, added another with 9.5 seconds remaining.
"We played really well tonight on the U Sports all-star squad," said Hart with a laugh. He turned aside 18 shots in his half of the shutout. "It was a lot of fun playing with those guys and they had a lot of fun too.
"It was good we got the first goal early and there was a lot of excitement on the bench."
DiPietro started in net for Canada, stopping 11-of-12 shots in the first half of the game. Harvey made 12 saves in relief.
Canada and the U Sports all-stars will meet again on Thursday afternoon before the juniors take on Denmark on Friday in exhibition play. Final cuts to the 33-man roster are expected late Friday to get Canada’s team down to 22 ahead of the world championships in Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
Philp opened the scoring on the power play 2:44 into the game, scoring on DiPietro in Canada’s net.
"All the goalies were really good tonight," said Point. "One goal combined between the four of us and that’s not really an easy shot to stop, the guy was all alone, low circle. I think all around the goalies are looking good so it’s going to be a tight race for all of us."
Jonah Gadjovich had Canada’s best chance near the eight-minute mark of the third period, rattling a wrist shot off the pipes behind Hart on a 4-on-1 break.
After the game the teams staged a shootout, with five skaters from each club taking shots to help Canada head coach Dominique Ducharme evaluate his players further.
Nine players from Canada’s junior selection camp roster didn’t suit up for the game. Returning players Dillon Dube and Dante Fabbro didn’t play. Dube, a forward for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, has a sore shoulder and sat out Tuesday’s second practice. Fabbro, a defenceman for Boston University, missed both of Tuesday’s practices with an undisclosed injury.
"It’s nothing that could jeopardize their tournament, we’re just making sure that they’re coming back 100 per cent," said Ducharme. "They skated this morning but it’s something else to be in games. If we need to take a few days, we’ll take a few days. We want them 100 per cent."
Also missing were OHL leading scorer Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia), 2017 WHL player of the year Sam Steel (Regina), Robert Thomas (London) and Alex Formenton (London). Defencemen Kale Clague (Brandon), Conor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie) and Victor Mete (Montreal Canadiens) also sat out.