by Ron Duquette
“You can’t win a championship without good goaltending,” offers Coach Morley Kells. “And right now, we have the best combination of three netmen in the NLL.”
Facing the playoffs, this kind of confidence is certainly justified. The Long Islanders now have the top goals against man in the game…Merv Marshall, with a 13.3 record. Merv’s only problem seems to be a temper, that gets him thrown out of games and suspended at times, which will not benefit the team in the crucial moments of a playoff game. Number two man, Tim Barrie who rated a 13.7 average in June, has dropped to 15 in August. Tim’s concentration wore down a little after a spectacular start and Coach Kells is super pleased with his season to date. “What a future,” Kells remarks. “And you can bet, Timmy will be there when needed, come the crunch.[”] Third stringer, Gary VanSchagen, has seen more action lately due to injuries and suspensions and has risen to the occasion extremely well.
“Goaltending becomes more important than almost anything in playoff lacrosse,” Kells explains. “Injuries are always a factor, especially with our style of game. Our netmen take more abuse than others because we frequently use them to kill penalties up the floor.” The coaching strategy is to use all three on a rotation basis during the remaining games, to keep everyone on their toes as the countdown to the playoff continues!