Mike Poulin breathed a huge sigh of relief when the final buzzer sounded last Sunday in Edmonton.
After stopping 41 of 52 shots he faced to backstop the Calgary Roughnecks to a 12-11 overtime road win over the Edmonton Rush, Poulin took a curtain call as the third star of the game.
“It was definitely a monkey off my back,” said Poulin, who now has a 1-3 record this year after going 12-5 last season. “As a team and personally, it’s been a strange season. It’s somewhere we’re not really used to being. We’re usually leading the pack and fighting for first overall and not fighting for a single win.”
Calgary captain Andrew McBride referred to Poulin as a consummate professional and added that he couldn’t be happier to see his teammate of six seasons get his first win of the year.
“He’s one of those guys that has such a commanding presence in the locker room,” McBride said. “He brings a lot of energy and excitement. It was really, really great to see the coach (Curt Malawsky) reward Mike with another start and get back in there and play like the Poulie of old. I know he’s been pretty hard on himself and not happy with his start, but he was back to his old self and really made some absolutely key saves when we needed them the most and propelled us forward to victory.”
Over his nine-year NLL career, Poulin has shared the net with a lot of other goalies, including fellow netminder Frankie Scigliano for the last four seasons in Calgary.
“I can honestly say I haven’t had a better relationship with anyone like I have with Frank,” said Poulin of Scigliano, who has a 1-4 record including a 36-save performance during a 16-13 win for the Riggers at home over the Vancouver Stealth on Feb. 21. “He’s just a good person. He’s hard working and he’s easy to get along with and that’s what makes him such a great teammate. I know over the past four years, he’s supported me. When he gets his shot, like he has so far this year, I’ll be there to support him and do everything I can to help him along.”
Whether it’s Poulin or Scigliano in between the pipes for Calgary’s home game against the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday night (7 p.m.), the Roughnecks have confidence in both of them to get the job done.
“It’s a great situation for us to be able to have two goalies to interchange in there and I’m glad Poulie came in (against the Rush) and got that win for us in an absolute crucial part of the season,” McBride said.
“Rochester’s obviously a very skilled team,” McBride said. “They’re very well coached. They’re disciplined and have been in big games and situations before having won three championships in a row. They spread the ball around very well. You can never key on one guy because they really complement each other well on the offensive end. They have an elite goaltender and a very big, bruising, solid defence, so it’s going to be a tough test for us. We’re glad to be able to have this game at home and hopefully the home crowd can really propel us to get some emotion and get off to a really good start, because that’s going to be very, very crucial.”
“I continue to maintain that we’re focusing on exactly what we need to do as a group with the Calgary Roughnecks,” Malawsky said. “We’ll draw confidence on the good things that we’ve done in previous games this season and we’ll draw confidence on the good things we did against Rochester. It’s a whole different game and we’re a very desperate team still and we have a big uphill battle. We’re just going to continue to get better. They’re champs for a reason so we’re going to have our work cut out for us on Saturday.”
DID YOU KNOW?
In Rochester on Feb. 28, the Roughnecks trailed the Knighthawks 7-1 before battling back to tie the game up at 11-11 at 4:50 of the fourth quarter. “We didn’t get a good start and kind of clawed our way back,” McBride said. Poulin made 23 saves in a relief appearance of Scigliano, but wound up taking the loss after Rochester forward Cody Jamieson scored the game-winning goal at 11:12 of the final frame.
PLAYER PROFILE – #30 Mike Poulin
Height & weight: 6-2, 205
Birthdate: Dec. 17, 1985
Hometown: Kitchener, Ont.
Resides: Waterloo, Ont.
Fast fact: When Poulin joined the Roughnecks in 2010, goalie Matt King was already wearing #30, so he wore #33 instead. The next year he switched to #30, which is his favourite number because he’s a big fan of Martin Brodeur, who won three Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils and a pair of Olympic gold medals with Team Canada.
Stat attack: Poulin went 5-1 in his first season with the Riggers in 2010. Prior to that, he had compiled a 1-7 record with the Toronto Rock and Boston Blazers. He’s now just one win away from recording his 50th NLL victory.
Occupation: Account manager for Shred-it.
Family ties: Mike and his wife Jana have a 13-month-old son named Leo.
Notable quotable: “I’ve tried to, this year especially, not focus too much on individual stats,” Poulin said. “It’s a team game. I know when it’s going well and I know when it’s not going well. It just takes a bit of hard work and refocus to turn things around. Some nights you get the win and you make 20 saves and some nights you make 50 saves and wind up with the loss.”