Being a starter in the National Lacrosse League is a tremendous task for any goalie, especially for a young goalie that is new to the league. However, the Colorado Mammoth have decided to make the move to go with two of the youngest goalies in the league, with these two individuals having a combined age of 46 years old, making them the youngest duo in the NLL. Tye Belanger and Dan Lewis are taking on these roles and battling for the starting position on the team. What these two youngsters lack in experience, they make up for in hard work and determination.
Both were added to the team halfway through the season, which motivated and pushed them to make their spot on the team mean something. Coach Bob Hamley explained that he wants them to give the team a chance to win. Colorado has strong offensive players, but if it can get some solid goaltending, it has the chance to be a contender in the NLL.
At the start of the season, Belanger was on the ‘Physically Unable to Perform’ list due to broken arm. Belanger says that he was uncertain what the future had in store for him but his focus was on getting healthy.
Once he was back and healthy, the Mammoth released goalie Matt Roik to put Belanger on the roster.
“It is surreal,” Belanger said, about living the dream he had since he was a little kid. The blocker type goalie has not changed any of his fundamentals with his return, but is overwhelmed with his overall experience and opportunity with Colorado.
Lewis found himself in the same situation as Belanger. He was placed on the practice roster at the start of the season, which was a minor setback for the 24-year-old from Coquitlam, British Columbia. Lewis did not let this affect his performance and had his eye set on making it onto the active roster.
After the Mammoth released Chris Levis, Lewis’s determination allowed him to step up and fill the empty slot that Levis left. The change in his role did not affect the routine he was accustomed to, but allowed him to be better prepared to be more than just a shooting target in practice.
Toronto goalie Nick Rose had a similar experience to the two young goalies last season when he was traded from the Calgary Roughnecks to the Rock. By being focused and trying to make the most out of his moments, is how he has been successful. It has been a positive experience for Rose and he is showing that he has the ability to have a long career as a starting goalie. And last Friday, when the Mammoth played in Toronto, Belanger and Lewis had the best seats in the house to see how Rose’s hard work has paid off, something they’re both also hoping to accomplish.
The two Mammoth goalies have a challenging but exhilarating road ahead of them, and with their perseverance, it will assist them in being the best they can become. They are embracing the opportunity to play for the Mammoth and make the most out of lessons they will learn as they develop.
This healthy competitive relationship between two young striving goalies will be an interesting battle to see who comes out on top and takes over the starting position for the season. The coaches made it clear that the starting position is not set in stone. For now, the two can only make the most of their moments, gain experience and grow as goaltenders.
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