If you were to paint by numbers using Curtis Palidwor's stats this season, you'd end up with a near masterpiece.
At least it would be in the eyes of Calgary Roughnecks fans.
Heading into today's important National Lacrosse League West Division tilt against the Arizona Sting at the 'Dome (7:30 p.m., Ch. 27), the Riggers' starting goaltender is sporting fantastic figures.
The 33-year-old is playing the best lacrosse of his professional career, owning the league's second-best goals-against average (10.33) and save percentage (.791), trailing only Buffalo's Steve Dietrich (10.04, .808).
"Had you told me I'd have those numbers at the start of the year, I'd have been real happy," said Palidwor, who has held the opposition to a total of 19 goals in the past two games, both wins. "I still think we could have had a few more wins by now but I'm coming on stronger and so has the whole team. I'm happy with my stats and the way I've played and I'm happy with the way the defence has played in front of me."
In any sport they're present, goalies are pivotal to a team's success. Perhaps in no other game is that more apparent than lacrosse, where a mediocre performance by a goalie usually spells disaster.
Palidwor has steadily moved up the goaltending charts this season, going from eighth in GAA to his present perch in second.
"It's been proven in the past I'm more of a second-half goalie and get better as the season goes on," said Palidwor, the MVP hero of Calgary's 2004 championship victory. "I'm very happy with the way things have gone and hope they keep getting better for me and for the team."
Arizona's offence, on the other hand, has struggled, scoring only 21 goals on 114 shots in two games last weekend. Palidwor and the Calgary defence held Arizona to a season-low seven goals in a 13-7 win Feb. 18.
Arizona coach Bob Hamley admits now is not the time to face Palidwor and the Riggers, only a week after his team was held to 10 goals by Dietrich and the Bandits.
"We'll have to shoot real well to beat Palidwor the way he's playing," said Hamley. "He's on right now. We have to play desperate.
"I don't think we're shooting the ball well," he continued. "We have to turn that around if we want to beat Calgary. Calgary wants to finish the season strong and as high as they can. We need wins to make the playoffs. Just another game in the NLL. It'll be a tough one."