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Dylan Garand Hopes Strong Season Translates to World Junior Success with Canada

He only got one period of action last year, but Dylan Garand is ready for a more extended look with Canada's World Junior Championship team this year.
Dylan Garand

Dylan Garand is one of just three players returning to Canada from the 2021 silver medal squad.

Defenseman Kaiden Guhle and forward Cole Perfetti are the other two - both of them played integral roles a year ago. Garand? He made four stops in one period of action of a blowout game against Germany.

So, in a way, Garand is still really fresh to this whole World Junior Championship thing.

Garand, along with fellow WHL goaltender Sebastian Cossa, is one of the goaltenders competing for the starting role for Canada later this month. With Brett Brochu as the third man, Canada's goaltending appears to be a strength of the group this year after a couple years of big question marks heading in.

While Garand's actual in-game experience is limited at the WJC, he still believes being apart of that team and working with Devon Levi set him up well for a chance to win gold this year.

"I felt like going through that whole tournament, I know what to expect a little bit," Garand said. "The whole layout of the tournament, scheduling of the game days and stuff like that. You already know the kind of mindset going into the round-robin."

Garand said he enjoyed working with Levi last year, who made the jump from Canadian Jr. A to Canada's No. 1 goaltender despite not playing any game action prior to December. Levi had one of the best tournament performances ever seen by a goaltender, and Garand said he picked Levi's brain a bit to gain a bit of an advantage.

"He's probably my best buddy," Garand said. "He's out there, cheering for me, supporting me. I got to watch him last year and the success that he had. I made him a promise that I would come back this year and get the gold for him."

Garand enters the tournament as one of the top goaltenders, statistically, in the CHL this season. Garand currently leads the WHL with a 15-4-0 record, a 1.85 GAA and .932 save percentage. Cossa, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, sits second. 

Garand hopes that his good start to the season will translate into a strong tournament in Edmonton - and, hopefully, the No. 1 starting gig.

"I think my start has been great, I've gotten into a rhythm and have figured out what works for me," Garand said. "That kind of helped me coming into here, knowing what works and keep it all the same, working hard and giving the team a chance to win."

Depending on who you talk to, the No. 1 goalie situation is a bit in the air right now. Cossa is the one with the highest pedigree - someone many scouts believe will be a star in the NHL one day. But the numbers don't lie: Garand is playing too good to ignore right now and if he doesn't get the bulk of the starts, he'll force coach Dave Cameron's hand on a few occasions, at least.

The two goalies are expected to split the pre-tournament action, and it'll come down to who shows the most promise. Garand, a NY Rangers prospect, is small at 6-foot-1, but he sees through traffic well and his glove hand stands out against other junior goalies for its quickness and his ability to accurately read shots with it. Garand is technically sound crease-to-crease mobility. He's gotten physically stronger, allowing him to move more fluently in the crease since his NHL draft year, and his mental game is solid for someone his age.

Cossa has size on him, and, while it's not really a factor into who gets the No. 1 later this month, the hype. But Garand has established himself as a realistic option in New York's farm system for the foreseeable future. With the way he's playing, Garand will be tough yank from the crease if he's playing so well.

Canada can't go wrong with its goalie options. While Garand and Cossa are the two favorites, Brochu could end up being this year's Levi - someone that wasn't high on Hockey Canada's radar originally that ended up stealing the job. But Hockey Canada likes Garand, and you have to think they'll give him an opportunity to showcase what he can do on the international stage.

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