Pogge 'padding' his stats

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Justin Pogge's out of the black and into the white.

In a bid to regain his stellar form, the Calgary Hitmen goalie has buried his new black pads in the hockey bag and pulled out his old, trusty white ones.

After being less-than sharp on a couple of soft goals in Tuesday's 6-4 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Game 3 of the best-of-seven WHL conference quarter-final, Pogged vowed he'll be wearing the old-faithfuls for Game 4 tonight (Saddledome, 7 p.m.).

"It's just a comfort thing. I feel better in my white pads," said Pogge, who changed his into the white gear to start the third period after giving up five goals Tuesday wearing the black pads. "I'm still a little uncomfortable in the black ones but it's still all in your head, so I'm going back to what was working."

And that's where it's at for the soon-to-be 20-year-old from Penticton, B.C., as he looks to regain the confidence that made him one of the best goaltenders in the Canadian Hockey League.

"I was trying to do too much out there and not reacting," said Pogge, who has a 4.37 goals-against average and .845 save percentage so far in the playoffs. "I realized that today and worked on it in practice and I felt really good."

With the favoured Hitmen trailing 2-1 in the series, they'll need Pogge to be sharp if they have any hope of coming back.

The main thing, according to Hitmen goaltending coach Darcy Wakaluk, is for Pogge to stay calm and not be too cerebral between the pipes.

"I think it's a combination of things with him trying too hard and thinking he has to do everything himself to carry this team," said Wakaluk. "Basically, what it really comes down to, is he's trying to think too much. Any goaltender will tell you that once you start thinking between the pipes, you're in trouble."

The good goalies are the ones that rely on instincts.

"It's a case of getting back to the basics and taking care of that crease right in front of you, while being big and patient," Wakaluk said. "You can't try and make a save before the puck gets to you. As as soon as the guy shoots the puck, you can't make the glove save. You've got to let the puck come to you. You almost have to flatline and just relax."

Pogge, the Eastern Conference nominee for WHL goaltender of the year, will also look back upon the success he's had this season -- including a world junior hockey championship -- as a way to get back into the groove.

"You've got to look back on the positives things that happened to you," said Pogge, who sported a 1.72 goals-against average with a .926 save percentage during the season. "I had a really good season this year and you don't just change overnight. I've just got to get the confidence back and start playing well again. You've got to have a short memory for this kind of hockey."

The reason the Hitmen are trailing in the series isn't all Pogge's fault.

The Hitmen had a 3-1 lead heading into the second period Tuesday and let their foot off the gas. And they've still only scored one even-strength goal through the series so far, while the powerplay's clicked seven times.

Game 5 goes Saturday (Saddledome, noon). It's an unusual time because of the NLL game between the Calgary Roughnecks and San Jose Stealth that evening.


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