CALGARY, AB — The last couple of seasons have seen quite a few ups and downs for goaltender Mike Poulin.
And not just due to turbulence from the many flights between Calgary and Toronto.
The veteran netminder opened the 2015 season as the Calgary Roughnecks starter, but eventually lost his job to Frankie Scigliano, who was excellent between the pipes.
Scigliano faltered late in the playoffs and Poulin took the reigns in Game 2 of the West Final, helping the Roughnecks complete the comeback to win the game. Despite losing in the tie-breaking game, Poulin put himself back into the conversation to be the starter in 2016.
Building off of that strong finish, the Poulin Wall went on to lead the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) league with a 7.01 GAA and an .840 save percentage.
He looked like his old self again.
While winning the starting job was his priority, it wasn’t his only focus for 2016. He wanted to be a leader on the team, especially for the other two goaltenders – Scigliano and rookie Christian Del Bianco.
“I started as a back-up and was brought in as the mentor, which I took with full responsibility in terms of having two young goalies here,” Poulin explained. “This being my 11th year, I wanted to help with anything I could. Whether it be d guys, o guys, especially the goalies, I just wanted to be a good teammate.”
After being a starter for many years and having won a Champions Cup and a Goalie of the Year Award, opening the year as a back-up was different for Poulin.
But he was always professional and was a great teammate for Scigliano, Del Bianco, and the rest of the Roughnecks.
While he didn’t see the floor much early on, he remained ready for that moment when coach Curt Malawsky would call upon him.
And that call came in week 6 against the Saskatchewan Rush.
He took the most of his opportunity.
“As the year went one, when I got my opportunity, I know how rare they are in this league,” admitted Poulin. “At any moment it can be gone. I’ve seen a lot of great players come and go in this league whether it’s due to family, work, injury, or just no spots left.”
He started all but one game the rest of the way, missing the game in Georgia due to the birth of his second son. Poulin finished the year with a 4-5 record to go along with an 11.46 GAA (right on par with his career average) and a .778 save percentage.
When the season eventually came to an end in Game 2 of the West Division Final, the reality of the future began to set in for Poulin.
His future with the Roughnecks is not guaranteed.
“Wait and see,” said Poulin. “Seven years here and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ll take my time to reflect on everything and weigh my options. We’ll see what happens in the offseason with my situation.”
With two young children, two talented goaltenders ready to battle behind him, and a lot of long flights every weekend, there is a chance that the Poulin Wall takes his talents back East, similar to what Shawn Evans did last summer.
If this is the last Roughnecks team that Poulin suits up with, he’s proud of his team and what they accomplished in 2016.
“It’s a character group of guys,” stated Poulin. “Everyone cares for each other and battles for each other. It’s an unheralded team. There’s not a lot of big names on this team. It’s a team of just go put on your work boots and go out there and battle.
“We came a long way. We lost a lot of one-goal games and some overtimes. Those can either bring you together or break you. We battled and it’s a great group of guys that I’m really proud of.”