SOCHI, RUSSIA – Goalie Carey Price will start Canada’s Olympic opener against Norway on Thursday, and Roberto Luongo will start Friday against Austria.
Canada coach Mike Babcock announced his rotation Wednesday after practice in Sochi, but Babcock and both goalies attributed no significance to the order.
The coach had previously said both goalies likely would start at least once in the preliminary round before he decides who will backstop Canada during its run at a third gold medal in the last four Olympics.
“Obviously I’m thrilled, and I’m just ready to go,” said Price, the Montreal Canadiens’ three-time All-Star. “It’s definitely a highlight. I seem to have had a lot in my young life so far, but this definitely ranks up there.”
Price, a British Columbia native, will make his Olympic debut against Norway.
The 34-year-old Luongo is a three-time Olympian who already earned a gold medal in 2010 after stepping in for Martin Brodeur. Luongo won four straight elimination games in Vancouver, making 34 saves in the overtime final against the United States.
The Vancouver Canucks goalie isn’t bothered by the competition for Canada’s starting job from Price and Phoenix’s Mike Smith.
“We’re all here to play for Team Canada, man,” Luongo said. “We’re all pulling on the same rope. It’s a team game right now. It’s not about Roberto Luongo or Carey Price or Mike Smith. It’s about being a part of Team Canada. It doesn’t matter what role you’re given. You have to embrace it and accept it.”
Canada is expected to dominate its weak preliminary-round group, which also includes Finland. The top four teams in preliminary play advance directly to the quarterfinals and, from there, need just one more victory to play for medals.