The eight-game suspension handed to Barrie Colts goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood has complicated Canada’s plans for the upcoming World Junior Championship, which begins on December 26 in Helsinki, Finland.
Blackwood, a 2015 second-round pick by the New Jersey Devils, was suspended on Tuesday by the Ontario Hockey League after an ugly stick-swinging incident in a game against the Sudbury Wolves last weekend. As a result, he will be forced to miss the first two games of tournament if selected to the team.
That appeared to be a certainty heading into the start of Team Canada’s selection camp, which kicks off on Thursday in suburban Toronto. Blackwood and Mason McDonald, a 2014 pick by the Calgary Flames, are the only two netminders who were invited to attend. Now it appears that a third goalie must be added, if only to back up McDonald for Canada’s games against the United States and Denmark. It’s possible however that Team Canada will now consider leaving Blackwood at home for the duration rather than use a roster spot to carry a third goalie.
Florida Panthers prospect Samuel Montembeault was the only other netminder invited to Canada’s summer camp but he’s been struggling for a weak Blainville-Boisbriand Armada squad in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. While it's likely he would get the call, Hockey Canada might also look at Adin Hill, a 2015 selection of the Arizona Coyotes.
Blackwood is 16-7 with 2.36 goals-against average and .932 save percentage for the Colts this season.
Hockey Canada has not yet responded to a request for comment.