Some teams might want their goaltender to be calm, cool, collected. Not the Nanaimo Timbermen. They like their starter Matt King just the way he is: fiery, emotional, vocal.
“Kinger’s Kinger,” said Scott Ranger, captain of the senior A lacrosse team. “He’s a very passionate guy. He wants to win.”
King’s style works for him, and works for the Timbermen. Fans might see the goalie slash an opposing player or follow a referee up the floor to berate him. But then they’ll see King back in the crease, making a game-saving diving stop like the one he made to preserve Sunday’s 8-7 win over the Maple Ridge Burrards.
If he’s hustling around his crease, jumping to make a save, he’s happy.
“I wish I could be the calm guy in net who plays his angles and was a bit more consistent,” said King. “It’s just not who I am. I’ve tried. Whenever I’ve tried to play that style I just feel I get disengaged with the game and I don’t play well.”
The 30-year-old said he’s gotten better at keeping his temper in check, and the statistics back him up – he doesn’t have any penalty minutes yet this year. It’s a far cry from 2008, when he was second on the team with 53 PIM, including two fighting majors.
“I definitely show all my emotions on my sleeve…” King said. “If my anger’s focused on a player, sometimes that does work. If I’m on the edge, sometimes I do end up focusing more. But sometimes I fall right off the edge and it’s a total disaster.”
It’s never a good idea to get too caught up in the officiating, he said, but he can’t help but voice his opinion and he’ll often stray from his crease to do so. Does he ever win those arguments?
“Not one. I’m 0-for-200 in that department,” said King. “They’re nice enough to put up with my garbage sometimes. I respect them all the more for it when they just let me vent or just tell me to shove it.”
Some of the extracurriculars make King fun to watch, but nothing’s more fun than watching the team win, and he provides that, too. He holds all the goaltending records for the young Timbermen franchise, including nearly 2,000 saves.
Some of those saves have been game winners like last Sunday’s.
“It’s a high-pressure situation, but … most games in this league are one- or two-goal games. So it’s the nature of things,” he said.
King came to the T-men in 2007 after requesting a trade from his hometown Victoria Shamrocks. He won two Mann Cups in Victoria as a backup, but sought playing time. He’s since won an NLL Champion’s Cup as a starter, but he still wants to backstop his WLA team to a Mann Cup. It could happen in Nanaimo.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make the playoffs. If we can attain that goal, then we’ll reassess,” he said. “We have a lot of talent; we’re a hard-working group. Who knows what shape we can take?”
GAME ON … King is slated get the start on Sunday (June 12) as the Coastal Windows Timbermen host the Coquitlam Adanacs at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. For a game preview, click here.