Pogge awaits his turn

Maple Leafs goaltending prospect Justin Pogge shows off the ring he received yesterday with his...

Maple Leafs goaltending prospect Justin Pogge shows off the ring he received yesterday with his Canadian teammates for their success at the world junior tournament. (Toronto Sun/Alex Urosevic)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

Justin Pogge didn't need a sign from above on June 24 to tell him his future as a Maple Leaf got brighter.

Though Leafs general manager John Ferguson traded for an experienced goalie in Andrew Raycroft that afternoon, he gave up Tuukka Rask, who had been viewed as a sparring partner with Pogge for the starter's role one day.

"There's a little less pressure coming from behind me now and it shows how much confidence they have in me," Pogge said. "I just have to get there now. I'm looking forward to learning a lot from Raycroft. I'm pretty sure he will do a great job in Toronto."

Pogge, who signed an entry-level deal with the Leafs last December, has been training in Calgary and will attend Leafs goaltending coach Steve McKichan's school in August.

Pogge is in Toronto with the world junior team, which along with the Olympic women's hockey team and the Paralympic sledge hockey team, received championship rings yesterday. A gala was held last night and the teams will participate in a golf tournament today.

HOCKEY IN SEPTEMBER

Paul Maurice will coach his first game behind the Leafs bench on Sept. 18 when Toronto plays host to the Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs yesterday released their eight-game pre-season schedule, featuring games against their usual exhibition foes.

Toronto will play the Sabres once, the Ottawa Senators three times, the Montreal Canadiens twice and the Detroit Red Wings twice. Each club will visit the ACC once, with the Wings in on Oct. 1 to conclude the pre-season.

Camp opens Sept. 14 and will be held at the Ricoh Coliseum. The Leafs will play host to a rookie tournament, involving Montreal and the Florida Panthers, at the Ricoh Sept. 8-12.

The 2006-07 NHL regular-season schedule will be released soon.

COACHES COMING

Maurice plans to name his three assistant coaches this week. Two men he reportedly interviewed have found other jobs. Mike Johnston was hired by the Los Angeles Kings as an associate coach and Wayne Fleming is thought to be close to being hired by the Calgary Flames.

There is the belief Keith Acton will remain with the Leafs as an assistant, and Dallas Eakins could be promoted from the Marlies. Another Marlies assistant, Joe Paterson, will remain with the organization.

BRIEFLY

The Leafs signed forward Nik Antropov, a restricted free agent, to a one-year, $1-million US deal. When Antropov decided not to seek arbitration before the deadline last week, his signing became a formality ... The Leafs remain interested in free-agent centre Michael Peca ... Former Leafs goalie Ed Belfour could be signing soon with the Red Wings.


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