Mike Poulin stood one-on-one with a Bandit looking to steal a victory from him and his confidence was shaken.
During the Calgary Roughnecks training camp, the one problem the starting goalie showed was on breakaways, and in the first outing of 2011 he faced a huge one.
Holding onto a one-goal lead in the fourth quarter, Poulin faced Buffalo Bandit Chris Corbeil on a dead run, but the goalie managed to put his hand on the shot to the corner.
The ball went up the floor, the Riggers padded their lead and went on for a 10-9 victory.
Whew. It was a weight off Poulin and the entire team’s shoulders.
“Normally I don’t get too down when it happens but during camp it was easy to get frustrated,” Poulin said. “It just shows we had a great camp and had great preparation. It was my weak point and we worked on it.”
Through the first weekend of action, the Riggers look like they made the right move in anointing Poulin as the No. 1 starter this off-season.
Coming over from Boston early last season, the 25-year-old slowly took the starting job from incumbent Matt King and compiled a 5-1 record.
King was then traded to the Colorado Mammoth, the visiting team Saturday night in the second home outing for the Riggers (7:30 p.m., Saddledome).
Poulin spent three seasons as a backup in Toronto and Boston and he finally had his shot as a full-fledged starter, but he took the news of King’s trade hard.
“Matt and I had a great relationship,” Poulin said. “When I came to Calgary, I knew I would have the opportunity to play and that I would battle for it.
“Matt knew that, as well, but at the same time, we became good friends. When he was traded, it was hard to see him go. At the same time, I was excited for the opportunity.”
In camp, there was a competition to become Poulin’s backup and eventually former Riggers starter Curtis Palidwor was chosen for the job.
Palidwor, who spent last season with the Mammoth, turns 38 on Sunday and is a veteran presence in the locker-room, but Poulin is 100% the main man.
The starter picked up where he left off in 2010 with two victories on opening weekend and he was named defensive player of the week in the NLL.
“I’m not satisfied with the first two games, though,” Poulin said. “There are things to work on, but I can’t have that in the paper. I don’t want to let the (Mammoth) know where they are going in.”
Poulin, who married his longtime girlfriend in August, still commutes to games from Waterloo, Ont., which means it takes him about seven hours travelling one way to attend home games.
If things work out in Calgary — and the franchise is stable long-term — Poulin would consider moving to Alberta full-time.
“I want to have a great season this year, build myself as the guy of the future for Calgary and then see what happens after that,” Poulin said. “A lot of it has to do with what happens on the floor.”
And things can change in the matter of one breakaway.