VANCOUVER -- When Justin Pogge and Tuukka Rask meet at a future Maple Leafs training camp, possibly as early as next fall, they might not have much to talk about if one brings up last night's world junior championship opener.
Pogge did not have to be spectacular, registering 16 saves in a 5-1 victory and Rask did not have much help from his teammates as Canada beat Finland before a crowd of 16,083 at the Pacific Coliseum last night.
Dustin Boyd, a Calgary Flames prospect who plays for the Moose Jaw Warriors, scored a pair for goals as Canada began its defence of the gold medal won at the world junior last year in the U.S. Blake Comeau of the Kelowna Rockets, David Bolland, a Mimico native who plays for the London Knights, and captain Kyle Chipchura also scored.
EASY NIGHT FOR POGGE
With Leafs assistant general manager Mike Penny in the building, Pogge, who demonstrated a fine set of puck-handling skills, had little to do. A third-round pick by the Leafs in 2004, Pogge made a good pad stop on Los Angeles Kings prospect Lauri Tukonen late in the first period.
A shutout was in the offing for Pogge until 8:49 of the third period, when a point shot by Aki Seitsonen during a Finland power play got past the screened netminder.
Rask, the Leafs' first-round pick this past summer at No. 21 overall, could only wish he had it so good. Though he was sound positionally and made some key saves, his teammates did not give him much help.
Defenceman Juho Jokinen was on the ice for Canada's first four goals and slapped his stick in frustration after Boyd, after a pass from Steve Downie, opened the scoring at 10:23 of the first. Later, Henri Heino failed to harass Boyd, who popped the puck into the net as he was falling to the ice.
Canada got the obligatory huge-check-to-get-the-crowd-riled out of the way in the opening minute when Michael Blunden of the Erie Otters steamrolled Erkka Leppanen. Though Czech referee Milan Minar called Blunden for charging, the intent was clear: Canada came to play, and it planned to do so in its usual in-your-face manner.
Though Rask, clad in the bright green pads of Ilves Tampere, his club back home, made some nice saves in the early stages, Canada built a 2-0 lead in the first period on seven shots.
Among Rask's finer moments were a breakaway save on Boyd in the second period and a pad save on Kris Russell, who had jumped in from the point, in the opening period.
Overall, Rask made 26 saves.
Canada coach Brent Sutter, who only has defenceman Cam Barker back from last year's team, jumbled his lines early on but eventually settled on trios of Guillaume Latendresse, Boyd and Comeau; Blunden, 17-year-old Jonathan Toews and Benoit Pouliot; and Chipchura, Andrew Cogliano and Bolland. Ryan O'Marra, Daniel Bertram, Tommy Pyatt and Downie served time together on another line.