Canada lost but at least Joseph Woll looked great

    Losing to the States was not a part of my New Year’s Eve plans. Winning that game is as much a Dec. 31st tradition as a mile-long coat check line and striking out at midnight. Your champagne might taste a little bitter following that 3-1 loss, but let’s try to find this afternoon’s silver lining.

    Joseph Woll, the American goalie, and Toronto Maple Leafs 2016 3rd-round draft pick looked solid against the Canadians.

    Woll stopped 25 of 26 shots and improved his tournament stats to 1.50 GAA and 0.934 SV% through two games (and two wins).

    Among goalies who have played at least two tournament games, the 62nd-overall pick’s GAA is tied with fellow American goalie Tyler Parsons for second best; Woll’s SV% is solely in second. Only Sweden’s Felix Sandstrom’s numbers – 1.33 GAA and 0.939 SV% in 3 games – are better. Keep in mind, Sandstrom has played weaker Denmark (1-1-1-1), Switzerland (0-2-0-2) and Finland (1-0-0-3) teams.

    Even rarer than falling to the Americans, Canada was held to just to one goal today. Since the 2001 IIHF World Juniors, Canada’s scored one or fewer goals just four other times: a 3-1 loss to Russia in 2001, 4-1 to Finland in 2002, and twice in 2014 (5-1 to Finland and 2-1 to Russia). Woll now finds himself amongst talented company; three of those four goalies were Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen, Nashville’s Juuse Saros, and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevski.

    Moving into the knock-out round, the Group B-winning Americans will play either Switzerland or the Czech Republic. Through round robin, the Swiss and Czechs are averaging 2.75 and 2.25 GF per game, respectively. Either country will need a lot of puck luck and legitimate magic to topple the States, which has given up just 6 goals in a group with Canada, Russia, and Slovakia.

    I’m always wary of WJC Leafs goalie prospects, especially after truculently trusting in Justin Pogge and not Tuukka Rask. However, knowing Woll is a freshman starter at Boston College makes me more confident in the 18-year-old.

    Here’s to hoping the States put Woll in net for the rest of the tournament, so we can get more glimpses of our (possible) future goaltender in the new year.

    Happy New Years, Leafs Nation.