Star becomes sitter

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

This is not what Sasha Pokulok is used to.

Canada's biggest defenceman at 6-foot-5, 229 pounds, Pokulok watched every shift from the bench in the team's first two games.

"You are used to playing in every situation and here the role is more specific,"said Pokulok, a first-round pick by the Washington Capitals last year who plays at Cornell. "Sure I would like to play more, but the six guys in front of me are playing well."

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

Though he plays in the Ontario Hockey League with the London Knights, Mimico native David Bolland knows plenty about Canada linemate Andrew Cogliano, who skates for the University of Michigan.

The two used to have battles in Toronto minor hockey.

"He got called up by the Vaughan Kings and I was with the Toronto Red Wings," Bolland said. "He was a fast little guy and I would be the guy trying to jab him and knock him down."

Who would come out on top? "He did," Bolland said with a laugh.

LITTLE LATVIA

Latvia is making its initial foray into the world junior championship and one has to wonder how they made it this far.

While Canada can pick from a nation full of top-level junior players, Latvia has a pool of 40 players from which to choose its team.

"Yes, only 40," Latvian general manager Maris Baldonieks told the Vancouver Sun. "We are a small country."

Latvia is a country of 2.5 million, but there are just 12 rinks within its borders and a mere 2,600 registered players from age six and upward.

Latvia lost its first two games of the tournament to the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

PLENTY TUNED IN

No less than 1,250,000 million people watched the world junior game between Canada and Finland on TSN on Monday, the second-highest number for an opening game. Last year, 1,350,000 million watched Canada and Slovakia skate in the first game at Grand Forks, N.D.


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