Tough assignment for Lanigan

JASON HILLS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

Cam Lanigan loves to be challenged.

He'll get his biggest challenge in his young WHL career when he faces the Vancouver Giants tonight at Rexall Place.

With starting goaltender Dalyn Flette out at least two weeks with an ankle injury, the 16-year-old will now be the main man in goal for the Edmonton Oil Kings.

"I like facing adversity," said Lanigan yesterday after practice. "I'm looking forward to it. I am taking it as a positive thing.

"I am just going to go into it even-minded and not think about the stats, where they are in the standings, or where we are. I just have to block out all the distractions and help get us out of the slump."

Vancouver holds the distinction of being the only WHL team to not lose yet in regulation. They are 7-0-0-3 this year, with their only three losses coming in the shootout.

Vancouver is tied for the league lead as the stingiest defence, giving up just 21 goals in their 10 games. They lead the league with 54 goals over that stretch.

"It's a good challenge for our guys. We're playing one of the best teams in the league and you can't be afraid of them, you have to go after them," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau.

"I thought we were timid against Calgary and that better change (today). We've got to go after these guys."

Lanigan has looked solid in his four starts. He won his first two WHL starts against Kootenay and Saskatoon. He had tough outings against Medicine Hat and last Sunday against Calgary, where he was ripped for a 7-2 loss.

That marked Lanigan's first start on home ice.

"The fans probably aren't too pleased with my first impression, but it happens, you can't go back and change anything," said Lanigan, who's posted a 2-1 record in five appearances this season.

Pleau knows it's a lot to ask out of his rookie goaltender, but he's confident Lanigan will be able to carry the load.

"I think he'll be fine. He's 16 years old, he's going to make mistakes like anybody else," said Pleau.

"Our team's got to learn to not let those things affect them, you've just got to play and we'll all be better for it."

With Flette out, it leaves the Oil Kings in a bind between the pipes. It pushes Lanigan into the starting role, and they only have one goaltender in the system they can callup and play and that's 15-year-old Laurent Brossoit.

"We have options, we can make a trade, we can bring in a kid off our list and let him go a little bit. We just have to figure out what is best for us now and down the road," said Oil Kings GM Bob Green.

"We've got to make sure Cam isn't put into a situation he isn't comfortable with. We've got to remember he's a 16-year-old, and he's learning the ropes of this league."

The WHL reserves the right to help teams that are in an emergency situation, and they can bend the rules in some ways when it comes to goaltenders. If any skater dresses for a game, and is on the scoresheet in a WHL exhibition or regular season game it quashes their NCAA eligibility, even if they didn't hit the ice for a single shift.

Goaltenders have to appear in the game for it to count against their NCAA eligibility.

Team have also lent goaltenders out to other teams in their system if it gets to be an emergency situation.

"We'll look at all the avenues. First we have to find out what Flette's status is and then we'll go from there," said Green.

"Sometimes it forces you to do things you don't necessarily want to do. Or it makes you do something sooner than you want, but it's all part of the game and when you are in a situation like this, you've got to do things."


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