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Fucale to start for Canada against Slovakia

by Mike G. Morreale

Canadian National Junior Team goalie Zachary Fucale, a second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in June, is expected to make his debut between the pipes on Monday when his team faces Slovakia in preliminary round play of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship at the Malmo Isstadion in Sweden.

Canadian coach Brent Sutter confirmed the decision Sunday after his team's practice. Jake Paterson (Detroit Red Wings) was the starter in Canada's previous two games, a regulation win against Germany and a shootout loss to the Czech Republic. Paterson has a 3.36 goals-against average and .867 save percentage.

Fucale, who would be making his first appearance for Canada at the WJC, is 19-7-1 with a 2.51 GAA and .902 save percentage for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"He's a very confident guy," Sutter told "He's a goalie that has great ability. He's won a Memorial Cup at a young age [in 2012-13]. He's one of two very good goalies here and he's going to get an opportunity."

In addition to the big change in goal, Sutter is also expected to have forward Charles Hudon (Canadiens) work on the country's top line alongside Jonathan Drouin (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Anthony Mantha (Red Wings) for the foreseeable future.

Drouin (one goal, four assists) and Mantha (three goals, two assists) share the team scoring lead with five points apiece. Hudon, who would replace Taylor Leier (Philadelphia Flyers) on the top line, scored his first goal of the tournament in the third period against the Czechs on Saturday. His goal forced overtime and earned Canada a point in the Group A standings.

The game against Slovakia will also mark the third and final match that defenseman Griffin Reinhart will be forced to sit out as part of his four-game suspension that carried over from the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia. He is eligible to return Tuesday against the United States in the final preliminary round game for both teams at 11:30 a.m. ET (NHLN-US,


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