Rough start for Pogge

MIKE RUTSEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:16 PM ET

Justin Pogge may one day be the Maple Leafs' goaltender of the future but yesterday in his professional debut it was more like his first day at school.

Done in by a rash of penalties, manpower disadvantages and too many juicy rebounds, Pogge and the Marlies dropped a 5-2 decision to the Manitoba Moose.

Pogge, the Leafs' top draft pick in 2004, faced just 30 shots but all too often he was left to fend for himself. The Marlies were left wanting in clearing the puck and allowed the Moose far too many second chances, especially in the first period when they dug themselves into a 3-0 hole.

In all, Manitoba scored four power-play goals.

"That's what cost us the hockey game," Marlies coach Greg Gilbert said of the opening period. "You have to hand it to Manitoba, they came out hard and took it to us.

"We were kind of on our heels and weren't doing what we did well (on Friday, when the Marlies defeated Syracuse 6-0). I think we know as a group we weren't at our best for that first period."

Although Pogge gave up five goals, Gilbert had no complaints about his goaltender.

"I thought Justin competed," Gilbert said. "Early in the game when he was kind of isolated there, it's kind of tough for a young goalie, any goalie. But he seemed pretty comfortable at times and wasn't fighting the puck too much. I thought he did a pretty good job for us."

For his part, Pogge, 20, said there's lots to learn as he adjusts to the speed and tempo of the pro game.

"It's a big jump up to play at this level but I feel I didn't play too bad," he said. "There's a couple of goals I might want back but it's a learning curve and you've got to start somewhere."

Although his team lost the game, Pogge believes he learned from it, especially the mistakes he made.

"Just certain plays and what guys might do," he said of what he's going to pack away. "I've got to be better with my rebounds, just a lot of stuff. Getting used to the puck speed and the speed of the game. There's a lot of things that factor into learning experiences and I'll take those in stride.

"There's a lot of gifted players out there and they work really hard and crash the net and you've got to be better with rebounds and controlling the puck."

Offensively the Marlies fired 32 shots at Drew MacIntyre, with Robbie Earl and Erik Westrum connecting in the second period.

The Marlies, 1-1, now enjoy a six-day break before playing host to Grand Rapids next Friday.


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