Avery hoping coach gives nod

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

Ryan Avery felt he was part of the Calgary Roughnecks future a few minutes into his first team meeting.

When the goalie was traded to Calgary from Buffalo midway through last season, he was worried about how he would be received by his new teammates because the Riggers had given up a first-round draft pick to get him.

After being forced to introduce himself at the meeting and talk about where he has played and what he does, the group welcomed him with open arms.

"Everyone was positive about it and it made me feel good," Avery said. "Players like Kaleb Toth, Tracey Kelusky and Kyle Goundrey, they accepted me right away."

A little more than a year later, Avery is one of the key players for the Roughnecks as they head into a first-round National Lacrosse League playoff matchup with Arizona (tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.).

Although Riggers head coach Jeff Dowling won't name his starter, one would have to expect Avery to start because he is hot right now.

Avery picked up a win in relief of Andrew Leyshon last Friday in Arizona, then played every minute as Calgary beat up the Edmonton Rush Saturday. He has an impressive 10.64 goals-against average and .782 save percentage in just over 231 minutes of play

The 24-year-old hasn't lost in the NLL (4-0) and is ready if he gets the nod.

"I like to stay relaxed. I'm singing and dancing in the locker-room," Avery said. "I like to have fun playing because if it's no longer fun, there's no reason to keep playing.

"If you take yourself too seriously, one goal can go in and it will ruin you."

Avery grew up in Hamilton and played junior lacrosse under Dowling for the Burlington Chiefs.

When he was traded to Calgary, he jumped in with both feet, moving to the city full-time and working for the Roughnecks on their school program.

He feels confident if he gets called into action, especially in front of a packed Saddledome crowd.

"Going into any game, the first three shots are the most important to me," Avery said.

"There might be 16,000 there and that will give us energy right out of the box."


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