King of the net

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:31 PM ET

Even in his ninth pro season of a career that has many twists and turns, Matt King is experiencing another first.

After helping the Calgary Roughnecks to their second Champion's Cup title last May, King will open the 2010 season tomorrow against the Minnesota Swarm as the team's No.-1 goalie.

That's never happened before.

"It's definitely a vote of confidence to get the support of the team, the coaching staff and management," said the 28-year-old netminder from Victoria. "It's fulfilling to have it happen and being part of such as fantastic group of players.

"A little more confidence comes with success. I hadn't found a great deal of success at the pro level."

A year ago at this time, King was at a low point in his career. The previous season, he was dealt from the Portland LumberJax to the Edmonton Rush in a multi-player trade where he was an afterthought.

The Rush made it clear from the start they would go in a different direction, and the Roughnecks picked him up in another move that sent former No.-1 goalie Steve Dietrich the other way.

King, who played with the Roughnecks from 2002-04, came back to Calgary trying to earn a job as a backup to Pat Campbell.

"I was probably on my last legs in this league," King said. "I was bouncing around a few teams in a few years. It's definitely different now. But I know things can change quickly, and I have to approach it like this could be my last game."

The Riggers drafted King in 2001 and the 21-year-old became the starting goalie early in the expansion year of 2002. Often, King would get shelled as the last line of defence for a 4-12 team that took its lumps.

Eventually, Curtis Palidwor became the No.-1 goalie for the Riggers, and King was the backup when the Riggers won their first title in 2004.

From there, he went to Anaheim for a season then was taken by the LumberJax in the expansion draft. In two and a half seasons with Portland, King split time with Dallas Eliuk before the trade sent him to Edmonton in 2008.

When the Riggers were contemplating making a move to acquire King, summer lacrosse teammate Kaleb Toth gave the deal a thumbs up.

Although King didn't have success with the Nanaimo Timbermen in the Western Lacrosse Association, Toth felt King would get the job done in the NLL.

Since taking over mid-season from Campbell, King compiled a 7-0 regular-season record with 3-0 in the playoffs.

"Matt's worked hard," Toth said. "He played for a lot of teams and backed up. This is his chance to show he can be a starter.

"Last year, when the coaching staff asked me about him, I was completely honest and said he could be a starter for us. This year, he's getting it right from the start. I hope he doesn't prove me wrong. I hope he continues to play well and does what he needs to for us to be successful."

The Grade 8 teacher wouldn't change anything about his career because it makes him appreciate where he is today.

"The first year in Calgary, I learned more than I did in the following two seasons," King said. "It was trial by fire and there were some rough outings.

"It's possible, and I've heard it from other people, that it set me back a bit. I was maybe thrown in too quickly. Nine years later, I'm still kicking around so it couldn't be too bad.

"I've been part of two championship teams in Calgary and I'm as happy as can be where I am now."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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