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Pogge Poised for Playoff Run

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

by Matthew Iaboni

March 22, 2006

(TORONTO) -- Ever since being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 90th overall in 2004, Justin Pogge has really taken off.

2006 has been a great year for the Leafs prospect, winning a gold medal at the World Junior team, signing a contract with the Blue and White and leading the Calgary Hitmen into the 2006 WHL playoffs.

Justin Pogge has played outstanding this season. (Getty Images)

After starting off the season red-hot, Pogge was named the starter for Team Canada at the World Junior tournament where all he did was post a perfect 6-0 record, allowing only six goals in those games to go along with three shutouts and .950 save percentage.

While many could've rested on those numbers and the gold medal, Pogge continued his dominance and it hasn't gone unnoticed.

He was signed on December 19 by the Leafs and he along with Tuukka Rask are expected to be the goalies of the future.

"Last year he was strong for Calgary in the playoffs and he has an exceptional record this season," general manager John Ferguson said. "We hope he continues the trend he has been on for the past year-and-a-half. We feel strongly that it will, there's no reason to think it won't."

Pogge's final regular season stats with the Hitmen were 38 wins, 11 shutouts (new team record), 1.72 goals against average in only 54 games. He led the league in goals against average and shared the league lead in shutouts and save percentage (.926).

The young goaltender set two team shutout records this season. He has 13 career shutouts with the Hitmen breaking the old mark of five. His 11 in a single season snapped the previous record of four. In mid-February Pogge had a shutout streak of 228 minutes and 47 seconds, breaking the old mark of 168:12. During that span, Pogge also became the first goalie in franchise history to record three consecutive shutouts.

Tuesday, Pogge was named a finalist for the WHL goalie of the year award and he was also named to the Eastern Conference first all-star team. He was also recognized by the Hitmen as he won numerous awards. After backstopping the Hitmen to the second best record in the Eastern Conference, Pogge was named the Petro-Canada Player of the Year, the Bookster Club fan favourite and, for his off-ice contributions, the Humanitarian award.

The Hitmen open up the playoffs Friday as Pogge will try and finish off his junior career a winner before making the leap to the professional ranks next season.

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