Two 'tenders mirror images

TY PILSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

Pundits are expecting a classic goaltending Matt-ch up this Friday.

When the Calgary Roughnecks face the New York Titans in the NLL championship, a big storyline will be the battle between goaltenders Matt King and Matt Vinc.

The similarities between the two are many.

Aside from their first names, their post-season paths to this point are nearly identical.

Both have allowed only 13 goals against in two games, and both are coming off stellar performances in their respective division championships.

King allowed only five goals and made 42 saves in a 17-5 trouncing of San Jose in the West. Vinc made 41 saves and allowed only three goals in a 9-3 defeat of the Buffalo Bandits in the East.

So far, King's numbers read: 120 minutes played, 6.50 GAA, .863 save percentage. Vinc's go: 122.16 minutes played (due to overtime in New York's first playoff game against Rochester), 6.38 GAA, .847 save percentage.

Oh, both players are 6-foot-1 and both are teachers.

Now, that's just getting creepy.

While interviewing the pair, it got stranger still.

"I remember growing up out east, always hearing about Matt King out west," said the 26-year-old Vinc, who lives in St. Catharines, Ont.

As for the 27-year-old King, who lives in Duncan on Victoria Island: "I heard about him a lot when I was in junior, heard a lot about this Matt Vinc guy over the years," he said.

The parallels between the two rising NLL stars, who both enjoyed breakout seasons this year, don't end there.

"We're both athletic goalies that try to use a lot of reaction," said Vinc. "We're both pretty young in terms of starting goalies in the league. I think, overall, we bring a lot of energy to the game."

The mutual admiration between the two is evident. Both speak of the others fantastic play this season, and both comment on how nice the other guy is.

The two teams faced each other once this season, back on Feb. 28 at MSG. Vinc stood on his head, stymying the Calgary attack early and making 48 saves in a 12-10 loss. King made 33 saves in a game where he helped establish himself as the Riggers' starter down the stretch.

King and Vinc chatted after the game, compared notes and talked shop as two guys in the very small fraternity of professional indoor lacrosse goaltenders.

"He was amazing," said King of Vinc in that tilt. "He kept it close. They had no Casey Powell (captain and leading scorer) and he really stepped up. He's very, very good."

Both Calgary and New York boast potent offences, along with quick and mobile defences. Therefore, many feel Friday's championship tilt will come down to goaltending.

"Growing up as a goalie, this is the type of pressure you get dealt on a regular basis," said Vinc. "Looking at these two teams, the offences are stacked. It's a big job."

On the extra pressure aspect of the big game, the two differ.

"It's not a lot of extra pressure. I think there is some truth in hockey that a goalie can take over a game." said King. "It can happen in lacrosse, but I think it's more that we can strongly influence a game."

Both figure their defences will play a major part in the game as they try to control the tempo and limit the damage.

There is one statistical category King is better in than Vinc: Goal-scoring. The Calgary goalie scored on a long bomb into an empty net at the end of the first quarter against San Jose.

"It's good to see a goalie score," Vinc said.

The goal -- Calgary's sixth -- ended up being the game-winner, to boot.

"Oh, wow," said Vinc. "Didn't know that."

Maybe he can even the score, so to speak, by lighting the lamp against the Riggers?

"You just try to do whatever you can," said Vinc. "Like a pitcher in baseball. If you can hit a home-run, great. My first job is to stop the ball."

Not an easy job, as King would no doubt agree.


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