Leyshon's ready for prime time

DARREN FRIESEN

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

Andrew Leyshon has read all the criticisms and heard all the doubters.

But the only people he chooses to listen to are the believers.

The Calgary Roughnecks goaltender realizes he's seen little action as a starter in the National Lacrosse League, so he understands there's some skepticism about him taking over the No. 1 role.

However, Leyshon remains confident knowing his teammates feel confident in his abilities.

"You can't blame anyone 'cause I haven't been a (regular) starter but I've won games for this team," said Leyshon, who posted a 12.65 goals-against average in 147 minutes played last season.

"I know the guys in the dressing room have confidence in me and that's the most important thing. It doesn't really matter what people outside the team think because they're not on the floor."

Leyshon takes over the starter's duties from Curtis Palidwor, who was picked up by the New York Saints in the expansion draft.

For a time, though, there was no guarantee Leyshon was going to slide in as the No. 1 but after a strong training camp and a couple solid outings during exhibition play, the 26-year-old Port Coquitlam, B.C., native is confident the job is his.

"I'm pretty sure but (Chris Hall) hasn't come out and publicly said so," explained Leyshon. "In practice, though, I've been taking most of the starting drills, so I'm pretty sure that I've got the starting role, so far. I'm pretty sure I'll be in there for the first period in game one."

While the Roughnecks are expected to contend for the West Division title and possibly the Champion's Cup, Leyshon feels no added pressure.

Besides, he splits time with Palidwor on their summer team, the Burnaby Lakers. Also, down the stretch last season, Leyshon saw some rubber and proved he's capable of starting in this league.

"It obviously makes that jump a lot easier," he said of the talent in front of him. "When I was in Ottawa a couple of years ago, I was kind of thrown into the starting role and we didn't have a really good team and it was a little bit of a struggle, so I took my lumps.

"That was a growing experience but on this team you just have to stop the outside shots and eliminate the weak goals and our defence is going to hold teams.

"I had confidence in myself based on my play last year and getting a lot of minutes down the stretch but we'll just wait and see what happens."

As for the doubters, Leyshon has a solution.

"In this league, with only 16 games ... every game is a playoff game, so all you can do to get the critics off your back is win games," he said.

Riggers general manager Kurt Silcott just laughed at those who think Leyshon isn't ready to man the pipes.

"Our goaltender situation is a hot topic with (the media), with me it's not a topic at all," said Silcott.

"I'm very comfortable with our goalies, I've been saying that all along.

"I can't wait for it to bear itself out because I just keep getting asked about the goalies and I'm not the least bit concerned about Leyshon or Avery.

"If you look at Leyshon's numbers last year, they are just as good as Palidwor's, if not better."


Videos

Photos