Goaltender's a real fighter

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Of all the traits that make a lacrosse goalie great, dropping the mitts isn't one of them.

Hence the dilemma Edmonton Rush head coach Paul Day faces when it comes to his 'tender, Pat Campbell.

The 28-year-old Campbell, in his first year as a National Lacrosse League starter, is a big fan of the fisticuffs, much to the dismay of Day.

"He's a tough individual," said Day. "Sometimes you have to reel him in because you don't want him to get into the Billy Smith, Ron Hextall action but some games he's close to it."

Campbell will backstop the 0-6 expansion Rush when they take on the 3-3 Calgary Roughnecks tonight at the 'Dome (7:30 p.m., Ch. 27).

The 6-ft. 1-in., 205-pounder said he often fights the urge to toss his gloves.

"It is hard," admitted Campbell. "It certainly is something I like doing. But this year, with me being a more important part of the team on the floor, that's not what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm on a pretty tight leash with Paul right now and I don't think I'll be out challenging anyone this season -- unless it's really called for."

After spending eight NLL seasons as a backup -- the last four in Rochester under Day -- Campbell finally got his shot as a starter after Day took over the reins in Edmonton and selected him in the expansion draft.

Campbell admits he got frustrated waiting for his shot and when people used to tell him he was crazy to be a lacrosse goalie, he would agree.

"My first response used to be 'it was probably the worst decision I ever made,' " said Campbell. "Whenever you ride the pine, it's not fun. But, I'd have to say that response has changed since this season began. I've really enjoyed my role as a starter. You can either be the hero or a zero as a goalie and I wouldn't change that for the world."

Campbell has impressed many people with his play this season. He has posted a respectable 11.32 GAA and .766 save percentage and has kept the Rush in every game it has played, said Day.

"I think, to this point, he's been our most valuable player," said Day. "He's played extremely well for us every night. He's really given us a chance to win every night and that's all you can ask out of any goaltender in this league, whether it's an established team or an expansion team."

Campbell downplayed his contribution to the Rush this season and even blamed some of his growing pains as a starter for the team's winless start.

"I think I've made some mistakes because of my inexperience," said Campbell.

"We're 0-6 and I think I still have some big strides left to make despite what some people think of how good my play has been this year."


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