Poulin starts for Roughnecks

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:03 PM ET

With second place on the line in the regular-season finale, the Calgary Roughnecks are going to make a change at a crucial position.

Mike Poulin will get the start in goal after coming in for Matt King and picking up relief wins the past two weekends.

The 24-year-old Poulin, who was picked up earlier this season in a trade with the Boston Blazers, will get his chance to prove he’s capable of taking the team into the playoffs by beating the Colorado Mammoth Friday night. Calgary has already clinched a playoff berth, but would earn a home date in the opeing round with a victory in Denver.

“I want to get to a point where I will start a guy and that’s who I’m going to ride,” said Riggers head coach Dave Pym.

“I know what Poulin can do coming off the bench but he had a good start in Toronto (April 2).

“I need to see what he can do from the beginning as the main guy.”

It’s a change that would have been expected had King not led the Riggers to the Champion’s Cup a year ago.

But this is a similar situation as King replaced Pat Campbell midway through the 2009 season.

King has a 5-4 record in 12 starts this season with 11.27 goals-against average and .738 save percentage, while Poulin has a 4-3 mark with a 9.75 GAA and .775 save percentage.

Still, Poulin knows what King has accomplished in Calgary the past two years and the Waterloo, Ont., native wasn’t pining for a switch.

He’s never played a minute of NLL playoff action in stints with the Toronto Rock (2007-2008) and Blazers (2009-10).

“Everybody wants to play so I will be happy,” Poulin said. “It will be a good fit.

“I prepared all season like I was starting so nothing has changed for me. It’s a good opportunity and something I look forward to. I will do whatever I can.

“But I’m fully aware we have two good goalies and whichever way we go, we should be on our way to a championship run.

“I understand the coaching staff wants to find the right guy and ride him going into the playoffs.

“When they told me Matt was starting, I understood because he’s an experienced winner in this league and he won with the guys last year. For that reason alone, I know what their decision was based on.”

The Riggers are riding a three-game win streak, and one of those was over the Mammoth, but in the last two games Poulin has entered in the second quarter.

Pym said both goalies have allowed goals on shots they should stop, but the head coach wants his team to know this isn’t the only aspect that needs to improve.

“It’s not all on their shoulders,” Pym said about the netminders. “We win and lose as a team. All three areas of our team need to improve and we need to eliminated mistakes we’re making all over the floor.

“Every guy has to step up and make that second and third effort.”

Despite the goalie change, the Riggers have the fourth-best goals-against average in the NLL with 10.60 per game.

Those good numbers have as much to do with the swarming Calgary defence, which can make life miserable for the most offensive of opponents.

Because of the players in front of him, Poulin doesn’t expect the switch to be tough at all.

“We have strong core values in our defensive system,” Poulin said. “Whether I’m in or Matt’s in, we play the defence the way we’ve been taught since Day 1. We don’t change.

“Fortunately it’s been an easy transition (coming on in relief). We won’t have too big of differences in styles. It’s not that hard on the guys to adjust. The whole point is so they don’t have to adjust.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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