Pogge's spot confirmed

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:37 PM ET

OTTAWA -- Justin Pogge had trouble sleeping Thursday night, though it's hard to fathom why.

Sure, the cuts were coming for the 2006 Canadian junior team early yesterday morning, and Pogge and roommate Steve Downie dreaded to hear the phone ring.

But, as many expected, there was no call. Pogge, selected 90th overall by the Maple Leafs in 2004, was named to the team yesterday following a week in which he was the best goaltender at the selection camp.

"You never know with these things," Pogge said on the phone from Vancouver. "But sure enough, I'm here. It was a big goal of mine to make this camp and now it's a dream come true."

The next phase in Pogge's dream in all likelihood will come on Boxing Day, when Canada opens the world junior tournament against Finland. Barring an injury to either, it's bound to be an all-Leafs prospects matchup with Pogge in the Canada net and 2005 first-rounder Tuukka Rask in the Finland goal.

Pogge, who sports a 19-5 record, 1.53 goals-against average and .928 save percentage with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, has been called the best goalie in the Canadian Hockey League this season. The accolades come after he failed to earn an invitation to the junior team's development camp in August.

Other than growing simply by getting older and maturing, Pogge benefited greatly from a stint at the goalie school of Leafs goaltending coach Steve McKichan in the summer. There, he was taken under the wing of Ed Belfour.

"Justin deserves this and we're happy for him," Leafs director of amateur scouting Barry Trapp said. "One big thing was Ed Belfour took to the kid and they bonded. For them to hit it off was great."

Not surprisingly, Pogge, 19, has some of the competitive juices that flow in Belfour.

"I've yet to meet (Rask) but I'm sure I will get to know him in the next few years," Pogge said. "All we want to do (on Dec. 26) is come out of that game with a win."


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