VANCOUVER (CP) -- Canada's starting goaltender at the 2006 world junior hockey championship will face more rubber than Jeff Glass did in 2005.
The team that won gold at the 2005 tournament gave up an average of 18 shots a game because the Canadian defence rarely let the opposition penetrate the blue-line, and when it did, it didn't get far.
That's unusual for any country at the world junior hockey championship as fortunes almost always turn on goaltending.
This edition of the Canadian junior team will be younger and will have little experience at the world under-20 level, so life will revert to normal.
While head coach Brent Sutter is a stickler for defence, his team will still need a standout in net in order to defend the gold medal starting Dec. 26, when Canada opens against Finland.
Justin Pogge of the Calgary Hitmen, Julien Ellis of the Shawinigan Cataractes, Devan Dubnyk of the Kamloops Blazers and Carey Price of the Tri-City Americans are trying to step into the shoes vacated by Canadian goalies who had breakout tournaments for Canada, including Marc-Andre Fleury, Jose Theodore, Manny Legace and Robert Luongo.
Pogge, a Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick, and Price, a surprising fifth overall pick by Montreal this year, are the frontrunners after the two intra-squad games of selection camp. They faced fewer shots than their counterparts, but were steadier.
Pogge made 13 saves for a shutout in Tuesday's game and Price stopped 16 of 17 shots in his team's 8-1 win Wednesday.
Dubnyk, a first-round pick of Edmonton, and Ellis, who is Vancouver's property, struggled. Dubnyk allowed four goals on 17 shots Tuesday and Ellis got off to a bad start Wednesday, with three goals on nine shots in the first period.
All four goalies will play in the exhibition game against the University of British Columbia on Thursday. Dubnyk and Ellis need standout performances to play themselves onto the team.
"You never really know what the coaches are thinking,'' Dubnyk said. "You just need to come in here and play.''
Glass demonstrated mental toughness in Grand Forks, N.D., by staying in games where he saw few shots and didn't give up game-breaking or confidence-deflating soft ones.
The ability to stay in the game is a requirement whether it's a little or a lot of shots, but Canada's starter in this tournament will see his share of action and will be required to make some acrobatic saves.
"You always got to go in it and think you're going to give up 25 shots in a game,'' head coach Brent Sutter said. "I always say if your team gives up more than 25, 28 shots a game, you haven't played very well defensively and probably out of those shots you've given up too many quality scoring chances.
"You need your goalies to make 25 real good saves for you.''
Pogge says he sees between 14 and 30 shots a game with the Calgary Hitmen, so he's ready for anything.
"It definitely keeps you mentally sharp and I think I've matured that way,'' he said. "I've been able to stick in games for 60 minutes not getting that many shots.''
Glass was the 89th pick and Pogge the 90th selection in last year's NHL draft. Like Glass, Pogge was not invited to the Canadian junior team's summer development camp, but earned an invitation based on his excellent play with the Hitmen so far this season.
Price's numbers weren't as good coming in, but the 18-year-old has excelled in pressure situations. He backstopped Canada to a silver medal at this year's world under-18 championship and regularly faces over 30 shots a game with the Tri-City Americans.
Ellis was a summer invite and has excellent numbers for the Shawinigan Cataractes, with whom he sees about 34 shots a game.
Of the four, Price relies the most on reaction and instinct. Ellis plays a stand-up butterfly style with Pogge and Dubnyk a hybrid of both.
Sutter isn't concerned about his goaltenders's methods, as long as they stop the puck.
"People talk about technique and that's great if a goaltender has great technique, but the bottom line is he makes saves,'' he said. "The Dominik Haseks of the world aren't great technical goalies, but seem to find a way to stop the puck and at the end of the day, that's what you want from a goaltender.''