Pogge slams it shut

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- "Pogge! Pogge! Pogge!"

They chanted his name before the game.

They chanted his name again and again and again as he made save after save.

"Pogge! Pogge! Pogge!"

The national netminder even heard them chant it again as he sat in the Team Canada dressing room after the first period.

The native of Fort McMurray, whose pregnant single mom was contemplating suicide until she felt him kick in her womb, Justin Pogge kicked out 15 first period shots and went on to make his mom and all of Canada proud last night.

For the final two minutes of the game 18,600 stood in GM Place and cheered Pogge and Team Canada home with the flags waiving and one of the sweetest and most unlikely gold medals Canada has ever won at the World Junior.

Gold! Again!

TALENTED RUSSIAN TEAM

Despite being so dramatically outshot early - 15-3 at one point - Brent Sutter's Canadian kids defeated a talented Russian team 5-0 to give Canada a 12th gold medal at the World Junior. Back-to-back gold medals after eight years between golds, it was the first gold for Canada on Canadian ice since 1995 in Red Deer.

"I can't explain how it feels with that many people chanting your name," said Pogge. "It is such a great feeling."

Sutter became the first Canadian coach ever to win two World Junior gold medals and did it back-to-back without a loss.

A perfect 6-0 and 6-0.

"A lot of coaches could have won gold with that team last year, but not many could have won gold with this team this year," said Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson of this not-so-talented team Sutter built from the beginning to have an identity.

"Any time you win it's sweet," said Sutter. "It's a very good feeling.

"It certainly was a different team. This team didn't have the experience. But the experience factor wasn't really an issue with this team.

"Sweet? Winning both is a great feeling."

But as much as it will always be Sutter's name on this gold medal, it will always be Pogge's name on the gold medal game.

He set a Team Canada record with three shutouts in the tournament and a goals against average of 1.00. He's the only Canadian goalie to play every single second and win every game.

"Three shutouts in a row. That says everything," said Sutter.

He did it by picking the kid who shut out his Red Deer Rebels twice and beat his team four times earlier this year to get his invitation to camp.

"I never question that he'd do it. I'd seen him so many times this year do it. He's a very even-keel, mentally-strong person. He was like the team. We had to be strong mentally. He was the guy everybody fed off. Tonight, he made some key saves in some key situations early. He was a very composed young man."

Pogge made a string of sensational saves in the first period, watched one ring off the crossbar, and held Canada in against all odds early.

"I had a shutout team in front of me."

He was the same low key guy after the game as he was the day before the game.

"They're just shots," the Calgary Hitmen goaltender said the day before when asked to contemplate the offensive talent he'd face going for gold at the World Junior.

By handling them like they were just shots and Canada finally getting garbage goals at the other end, Sutter's team killed the will of a superior skill squad in a helmet-popping, game which was as much a triumph of coaching as it was goaltending.

"It was as perfect as you can imagine," said captain Kyle Chipchura of Vimy. "Right from the start Brent Sutter never let us off the hook. He was huge for us. We all respect him and everybody bought in."

Sutter deflected the credit.

"It's about the players. This is a great group of young men. They stuck with it. I never questioned if we could score enough goals or not. The biggest thing was to shut down our opposition. I'm proud of every one of them. Tonight was the finale of how they've been since Dec. 11. We've been a team."

COULD HAVE IMPROVED SINGING

The only area where this team could have improved was with their singing. They could have done a better job singing O Canada as they stood there with the medals around their neck. About a dozen of them will have a chance to work on that for next year.


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