Playoff pipe dream

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Playoff experience can't be taught. And it can't be bought.

You've gotta earn it the old-fashioned way.

Calgary Hitmen goaltender Justin Pogge doesn't have any. But he's hoping to load up on it this spring.

Hitmen goaltending coach Darcy Wakaluk said experience is a bonus but it can't replace talent.

"It's not something that anyone is ever given," Wakaluk said.

"It's something you have to earn."

Pogge's Prince George Cougars missed the post-season in 2003-04 but Wakaluk said he isn't the least bit concerned how his 'tender will react under pressure.

"I don't think it's a big deal," he said.

"You have to start somewhere and he's only 18 years old.

"Coming down the stretch, he's proven he's a number one goaltender in this league.

"It'll be important in his first game to let a lot of pucks hit him and not try to do too much. Take a lot of whistles early and get into the flow of the game.

"We think our goaltending is as strong as anybody's in this league and it's certainly not a question mark going into the playoffs."

Pogge, who never seems to let anything bother him, doesn't think it's an issue either.

His job, he said, remains the same whether it's a pre-season game or the Memorial Cup final.

"You just have to stop the puck," Pogge said. "That's what you're there for.

"If I do my job and everyone else does their job, we should be fine."

Pogge was 1-1 against the Hitmen's first-round opponent Lethbridge Hurricanes this season, losing 3-2 in overtime late last month before recording a 17-save shutout in a 1-0 victory last Friday.

Sniper Ryan Getzlaf said Pogge has earned the respect of his teammates since arriving in town at the January trade deadline.

"This will be a new experience for him and we're behind him 100 percent," Getzlaf said.

"He's obviously a talented goalie and has proven himself here.

"Any time you get on a roll and get that confidence, whether it's the regular season or the playoffs, it's going to help your hockey team."

GM/head coach Kelly Kisio has made deals for experienced goaltenders over the past few years, refusing to go into the playoffs with an unproven netminder.

But Kisio said Pogge's cool demeanour should help settle his team down.

"He's played enough hockey and is a loose enough guy, I don't think we have to worry about him tightening up too much," Kisio said.


Videos

Photos