Owen Sound Anchored by Depth in Goal
By Mackenzie Liddell, Contributing Editor
Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - The Owen Sound Attack have taken an unconventional path to the Ontario League conference final.
Having deployed three different goalies in a meaningful capacity so far in the playoffs, the Attack are the first team in recent memory to make it to the final four with a rotating trinity occupying the blue paint.
That seems to have changed for now, however, as initial No. 1 Scott Stajcer has stopped 143 of 148 shots since coming back from a hip injury that kept him out of action since late November and appears to have reclaimed the title of undisputed starter.
The 6-foot-3 New York Rangers product only played 14 games in the regular season, but hasn't lost a beat since his timely return to the crease, going 5-0 with a 1.07 goals-against average and .966 save percentage.
With Stajcer on the sidelines, 17-year-old Jordan Binnington carried the load admirably in the regular season, but struggled in the first round against London. However, he was pulled in the late stages of Game Four and hasn't had a start since.
He was replaced by Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Michael Zador, who went 133 minutes over four games without allowing a goal to close out the series against the Knights before getting pulled after two periods in Game One versus Plymouth.
Coach Mark Reeds acknowledged it wasn't something he had planned on, but that he was prepared to shake things up after his team's early struggles in the opening round.
"We were just trying to do what was best for the team," he said. "It's tough, but if you want to be a hockey player you just have to learn to roll with it and make the best of your opportunities."
Instead of sulking or looking over their shoulder after every mistake, Reeds said his goalies have come together in support of one another, forming an imposing three-headed monster in the crease - his own personal King Ghidorah, if you will.
"It's not a situation any coach wishes for," he said. "We have two experienced guys that want to play and Jordan's in his draft year and is the goalie of our future. But we've talked about it and I've asked them to be professional about it and they've done a great job."
Despite the unexpected change of plans, rolling out two NHL-drafted netminders and the No. 3-ranked North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting for 2011 is surely a problem most coaches would be happy take on.
Now that Stajcer is back in the fold, and playing superbly, Reeds admitted he will give him a chance to run with it the rest of the way. But as was the case in rounds one and two, he won't hesitate changing course if needed.
If Stajcer's 38-save performance in a landslide 8-1 win over Windsor in Game One is any indication, it doesn't appear Reeds will be forced to make that decision.
And if he is put in that position, it's not like he doesn't have options.
04/21 12:56:24 ET