Duo stops 'em by teaming up

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

They don't carry whistles or clipboards but Calgary Roughnecks goalies Curtis Palidwor and Andrew Leyshon are coaches by default.

Working within the tight budget constraints of a National Lacrosse League team, the defending champion Riggers -- like most teams in the league -- don't have a goalie coach.

Instead, when Palidwor, the team's starter, and Leyshon, the backup signed as a free agent in the off-season, aren't stopping balls, they're wearing their coach's caps.

In effect, they're each other's biggest cheerleaders and harshest critics.

"It's an extremely important relationship," said Palidwor, who turned 32 yesterday.

"Goaltending is a difficult position and it's tough for people to coach it if they haven't played it, so the coaches pretty much leave us alone. So we have to rely on ourselves to keep each other up, keep each other focused and keep our fundamentals good."

It helps the two 'tenders are good friends off the floor and already have a working relationship.

Palidwor and Leyshon have split time the last three years backstopping the Burnaby Lakers of the Western Lacrosse Association senior-A summer league.

"Andrew does a great job watching me during the game and telling me what I'm doing wrong," said Palidwor, who played 11 games for Burnaby this summer, while Leyshon started 12.

"We've been playing together for the last three years in the summertime and we know each other well.

"He'll tell me when I come to the bench if I'm dropping (my shoulders) on shots or things like that.

"After three years, we know each other's goods and each other's bads and we both take constructive criticism well.

"We both have the utmost respect for each other's opinions."

The relationship between a starter and backup can often be strained. That's not the case in Calgary.

"Sometimes, there's a little bit of animosity between guys," said Leyshon.

"They both want to be the No. 1 guy. But me and Curtis have played together so long, there's no rivalry there. We just want to do the best we can for the team."

The 24-year-old Leyshon has played 32 career games in the NLL, all with the defunct Ottawa Rebel in 2002 and 2003.

He spent the last year on the Vancouver Ravens' practice roster before being inked by the Riggers after the 2004 backup, Matt King, was plucked by Minnesota in the expansion draft. The 1-2 Roughnecks get back to action Saturday (7:30 p.m., Saddledome) when they host the 2-1 Arizona Sting.


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