Net to be forgotten

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Andrew Leyshon has another shot.

Now, he'll be facing lots of shots.

The former Calgary Roughnecks starting goalie spent last National Lacrosse League season waiting for a call, and finally got one this off-season as a backup with the Colorado Mammoth.

Three games into the season, perennial all-star Gee Nash went down for the year with a back injury, making Leyshon the new No. 1 man.

The 28-year-old will make his third straight start tonight against his former team when the Riggers face the Mammoth in Denver (7 p.m., nll.com).

"I'm just trying to make the best of a bad situation for our team," said Leyshon, who has a 8.38 goals-against average and is coming off two straight wins.

"I didn't want to see him go down, so I'm just trying to do the best for our team.

"It's pretty early in the season and the panic button can get pushed a bit too early. We have weathered the storm and got a couple of wins, so it's not too bad."

When it comes to talking about weathering the storm, Leyshon has experience.

After a rocky 2007 with the Riggers when he took over the starting job from the departed Curtis Palidwor, the Burnaby native was cut following the next season's training camp.

No one called during the 2008 season, but Leyshon stayed in the game by continuing with his summer team.

When Nash was injured, the Mammoth picked up Palidwor to be Leyshon's backup.

The two also share the net with the WLA summer league Burnaby Lakers.

Although he would love to beat the Roughnecks and end their five-game win streak tonight, Leyshon doesn't have any lingering hard feelings.

"I was upset (at the time) because I enjoyed playing there," Leyshon said. "They treated me well when I was there, but they decided to go in another direction.

"You can't hold a grudge if that's what they wanted to do. You have to live with it.

"They wanted to change their goalies and since then have changed them again. That's what happens in this league. There are only two per team and only 12 teams now. Guys get moved around quite a bit."

Leyshon is another example of how long it takes for goalies to develop in lacrosse.

The Roughnecks are in the same situation, as starter Pat Campbell is in his 11th season and only starting for the second campaign.

"It's about peaking at the right time when you get a chance," Leyshon said.

"Either you are hot and can stay as a starter, or you slump and get put back as a backup. There are only 12 jobs, so there isn't much room for error.

"Sometimes, it's hard to stay in games. The swings are so quick. For a goalie, it can get pretty rough sometimes."

Being that the Riggers know Leyshon and Palidwor well, the question tonight is who has the advantage?

Riggers captain Tracey Kelusky isn't sure.

"It can be good, but it can hurt you too," Kelusky said. "They will know our tendencies. We're going to focus on playing the Colorado Mammoth first and foremost."

Leyshon doesn't believe familiarity makes a difference for him, especially against the No. 1 offence in the NLL.

"In lacrosse, every game is different and shots come from everywhere," Leyshon said.

"In a split second, you can't think of what type of shot it's going to be."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


Photos