Calgary goalie steals show for Isles

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

CALGARY - Shortly after stepping on the ice, living out his NHL dream in his hometown, Nathan Lawson started hearing his name chanted.

It’s unlikely the 19,289 fans in the Saddledome knew the New York Islanders rookie actually hails from this city.

All the taunts did was make the 27-year-old goalie stronger, which was bad news for the Calgary Flames in a 5-2 loss.

“It’s a good thing if the fans are doing that, because it means you are doing something right on the ice,” Lawson said. “They are trying to get under your skin, so it gives you that extra confidence.”

Lawson got the call to join the Islanders this weekend when the team traded veteran Dwayne Roloson to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He took an early-morning flight to Calgary from Bridgeport, Conn., just in time for Sunday’s practice at the Saddledome.

All he expected to do was sit on the bench and watch as veteran Rick DiPietro made the start against the Flames.

But when DiPietro went down with a leg injury during a second-period penalty kill, Lawson was thrust into action.

Lawson helped kill that penalty, and only a David Moss goal late in the frame broke a perfect night.

No. 52 stopped 28 shots during a furious finish by the home side and then received the game-MVP hard-hat from teammates.

“It was better for me that I got lots of shots,” Lawson said. “When they scored that goal, it took the pressure off me. I said to myself then I was in for the long haul. I better start stopping some pucks. It was awesome. This is a dream come true. I want to keep rolling with it and prove myself.”

With the injury struggles DiPietro has had during his career, Lawson could get more playing time. This was only his second NHL game.

It has been a long haul for Lawson to reach the NHL.

He went from the Calgary Midget AAA Royals to the Olds Grizzlys of the AJHL, Alaska-Anchorage in the NCAA and then the ECHL and AHL for the past four years.

Throughout the journey, his family was supportive, and to be able to share it with mom Donna, sisters Stephanie and Jessica and father Stephen made it that much more special. Stephen Lawson had to miss the game due to illness, but Sportsnet West cameras found Donna near the end.

“I saw her out there,” Lawson said. “I know she’s pretty proud because she was wearing my jersey. I wear 52, because that’s the year she was born. It means a lot to her, and I think she was proud, so that’s all I can ask for.”

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