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Who starts in net? Guelph Storm has a tough decision to make for the playoffs

Anthony Popovich has been the Guelph Storm's starting goaltender for two seasons. But will he be when the playoffs start?
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Saxon on the Storm

Two months ago we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Two months ago it was all about getting Anthony Popovich ready for the playoffs, finding some consistency, building his confidence and hoping for a string of good games once the post-season began.

The trade deadline was over. Popovich was the Guelph Storm’s man between the pipes. It wasn't even debateable.

It is now.

Because a funny thing happened on the way to the playoffs: Nico Daws started playing well. Very well.

Now the discussion has to be had about who is in net March 22 when the Storm opens the playoffs at the Sleeman Centre against the Kitchener Rangers.

It may not be a long discussion. But it has to be had.

Popovich has been the team’s starting goaltender for two years now and it would seem inconceivable that anyone other than him would be the starter before Daws got hot.

And we’re not talking a week of hot. We’re talking two months of hot.

The numbers don’t lie. Over the last 10 games Daws has outplayed Popovich.

The stats:

Popovich: 6-4-0-0 record, 3.31 goals-against average and .894 save percentage.

Daws: 7-1-1-0 record, 2.57 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

And it’s not like Daws got the softer competition. Both goalies had six starts against teams with .500 records or better.

Neither goalie has much playoff experience.

Career-wise, Daws has 40 minutes courtesy of a pair of relief appearances last spring against Kitchener. Popovich has his six appearances from last year’s playoffs.

This season, Popovich played seven of the eight games against Kitchener, winning four of them. Daws lost his lone start against the Rangers in overtime.

So do you stick with the plan or do you go with the hot hand?

One thing is for sure, both goalies are likely to get action as the playoffs progress, both goalies will get the quick hook if games start sour and the chance of a goalie starting a game after a bad outing are greatly reduced.

My guess is Popovich gets the opening night assignment. To not start him might be a blow to his confidence from which he might not recover.

And let's not forget Popovich hasn't been terrible and he has shown that when he gets on a roll, it can be quite a roll.

But it’s not an easy decision.

Nor will it be in the off-season when the team likely has to move one of them to make way for a young goaltender to be brought along.




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