Westside Warriors netminder Nathan Lieuwen is off to a hot start with Canada's National Under-18 squad at the 2008 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in Slovakia. This morning, Lieuwen backstopped Canada to a 5-3 tournament-opening win over Switzerland.
After falling behind less than a minute into the game, Lieuwen and company dominated the Swiss both in shots on goal and on the scoreboard.
“Allowing early goals are never what you want, but the boys in front of me did a heck of a job from there,” he said following Monday's win. After the early goal, Lieuwen shut down the Swizz into the third period and stopped 16 of the 19 total shots sent his way.
“Playing for Team Canada is an amazing feeling,” he said. “The speed and the skill here is great and it's extremely quick.”
Lieuwen and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds netminder Bryce O'Hagan split Canada's two exhibition games against the United States and the Czech Republic, and each picked up a victory. But the pair was held in suspense when it came to who would start against Switzerland.
“I found out last night at our team meeting that I was getting the start, and I was really excited,” Lieuwen said.
The tournament marks Lieuwen's first experience playing in Europe on an Olympic-sized ice surface. Between the larger rink, the jet lag and the different foods and culture, it's been a whirlwind experience for the 18-year old.
“You do have to adapt to the bigger rink,” he says. “It's a challenge, and you have to make adjustments with angles and positioning.”
Lieuwen will now wait to hear whether he'll receive his second consecutive start when Canada plays Sweden on Wednesday. Either way, he says he's soaking up the National Team atmosphere and ready for his next opportunity.
“I'm hoping to get the next game, but if not I'll be cheering on the team.”