Goalie bombarded by shots this year

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET

A goaltender in Pat Campbell's situation should need time in a padded room.

Diagnosis: Shellshock.

Through the first five games of the Edmonton Rush's inaugural season, Campbell has turned aside 165 shots and given up 52 goals. While those numbers aren't the most impressive among National Lacrosse League netminders, consider how many of the shots are coming from point-blank range and on power plays. It's fair to figure that Campbell has had to stare down more quality scoring chances than any of his counterparts around the league.

MAKING A CASE FOR MVP

He isn't bound to be in the NLL All-Star Game in two weeks' time, but the 28-year-old stopper is certainly making a case to be the Rush's team MVP right alongside Jimmy Quinlan.

"He's been pretty outstanding every night," said Rush head coach Paul Day. "We had more shots on Nick Patterson in the game against Minnesota but there's no way you can tell me that he had more difficult saves to make than Pat did.

"He's fit, he's a high-energy guy and that energy is something that goes right through the whole team."

One might think that Campbell is a little tired of constantly being a human bull's-eye for the NLL's top shooters. Guess again.

"I've been sitting on the bench for most of the last seven years, so I'm loving this," said Campbell, who will make his sixth straight start tonight when the Rush face the Toronto Rock.

"When we have the ball I'm cheering for us to score, but I'm a little bored. I love seeing the other team running down on me.

"I love to see rubber coming at me during the game. The more I see, the better I feel."

In his early years in the NLL, Campbell caddied for two of the league's all-time best goalies in Bob Watson and Pat O'Toole. But on those rare instances when he would be called upon, Campbell showed blossoming talent.

"I always knew that Patty could play," said Day who was coaching in Rochester when Campbell first came along. "It was just a matter of getting an opportunity. Now he's got it and he's shining."

A REPUTATION

Campbell's growing skills were noticed, but perhaps not as quickly as his reputation.

The Niagara Falls native's sense of humour had become a frequent topic of discussion and so too had his knack for getting involved with his fists. With the Rush, he's yet to drop the stick and tear off his mask en route to a punch-up although he's come close.

"Patty plays on the edge, but it's not a surprise that he's playing this well," noted Watson who is now Toronto's star netminder. "He's a great character guy. He'll make you laugh but when it's time for business, he's all business."

Campbell's love of a good time is tempered by responsibilities as a leader on a young club, a role he's accepted with seldom-seen seriousness.

"In Columbus (an expansion team in 2001) we were a bunch of scrambly kids who never did a lot of goal-setting that would lead us to the next step," explained Campbell.

"Here, as bad as it's looked on the scoreboard and as down as the city is about us losing, we are making strides. We are achieving, not all, but a decent portion of our team goals. The biggest tribute to a young, inexperienced team is that we are getting better.

"It is like a light switch. As soon as we get it clicked on, we'll roll."


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