Lacrosse Editorial: Goaltending – Supermen Without The Capes

In past editorials, I have talked about bruising defenses, slick forwards, and up and coming future offensive stars.  The position which is always full of unsung heroes, is that of the goaltender.   These guys put themselves in the way of 115 mph shots game in and game out, with ice in their veins, no matter how big the game is.

I thought in this edition I would go through some of the future Hall of Fame goalies, as well as some of the up and coming league stars. 

Matt Vinc:

Drafted in the 2005 NLL entry draft by the San Jose Stealth, Vinc has been a standout throughout his career in the NLL.   In the 2018/19 season Matt was named the NLL Goaltender of the Year for the seventh time in his career, and was a finalist for the Most Valuable Player award.  Vinc earned All-NLL First-Team honors for the eighth time and seventh on the First Team. He has set new all-time league records for career wins (112), saves (7,823) and minutes (11,996).  He is a big reason why the Buffalo Bandits are one of the favorites to become NLL champions again.

Mike Poulin:

Drafted by the Toronto Rock in the NLL 2006 entry draft, Mike has been a perennial All-Star in the league.  For many years he was the backstop of the Calgary Roughnecks, and most recently for the Georgia Swarm. 

Poulin has won the NLL Championship with the Swarm in 2017, the MSL championship with Peterborough in 2019, as well as a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2019 World Indoor Box Lacrosse Championships.  Mike won the NLL Goalie of the Year award in 2012.

Still playing at the top of his game, Poulin has been a mentor to younger goalies, such as Craig Wende, helping them become elite level goaltenders as well.

Nick Rose:

A standout in Junior “A” Lacrosse with the Orangeville Northmen, Rose was rookie of the year in 2007, and won the Minto Cup in 2009. 

Drafted by Toronto in the 2008 NLL entry draft (28th overall) Rose was a backup in Boston, and Calgary, before getting his opportunity to start, returning to the Toronto Rock in 2012. 

With the Rock, Rose led them to a Champions Cup final in 2015, and was a finalist in the 2016 goalie of the year voting. 

Known for being a great passer, Nick has shown he is a goal scorer as well, scoring three goals in his NLL career.

Nick was recently named GM of the Orangeville Northmen Jr. “A” club.

Christian Del Bianco:

A standout in Junior “A” with the Coquitlam Adanacs, Christian won the Minto Cup in 2018, where he completely shut down the powerful favorite Brampton Excelsiors.  Del Bianco was selected by the Roughnecks in the second round (15th overall) of the 2015 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft.  Finishing the 2019 NLL campaign with a record of 10-8 and leading the league with 716 saves, Del Bianco set a new single season franchise record, surpassing Matt King’s previous record of 603 set in 2002. The Coquitlam, British Colombia product played more minutes than any other goaltender in 2019 with 1074 and had a perfect 4-0 record in the post-season to secure the Roughnecks’ title of NLL champions. 

Now in his 5th full season with Calgary, at only 24 years old, Del Bianco is already one of the best goalies the NLL has to offer.

Rylan Hartley:

Originally selected by the San Diego Seals in the second round (15th overall) of the 2018 NLL Entry Draft, he was selected by the Rochester Knighthawks in the third round of the 2019 NLL Expansion Draft.  Hartley is getting his first chance at being a starting goalie on this year’s Rochester Knighthawks team.

A stellar junior career, playing 5 years with the Orangeville Northmen, Hartley led them to a Minto Cup championship in 2019.  Rylan was also named Ontario Lacrosse Association Junior “A” MVP in 2018.  In his Junior “B” season in 2016, Hartley led the Northmen to a Founder’s Cup victory.

Steven Orleman:

Steven is playing his first year as a starter with the New York Riptide.  Selected in the second round (19th overall) by the Georgia Swarm in the 2018 NLL Entry Draft, Orleman spent the 2018-19 and 2019-20 NLL seasons as a member of the Swarm’s practice squad. Steven went 13-7 in the cage for the Brampton Excelsiors (OJALL) and recorded one shutout in two seasons with them. In 1206:03 minutes he had a goals against average of 7.36 and a save percentage of .690%.  In his OJALL career, Orelman saw action in 67 games with 1,333 saves, a goals against average of 7.60 and a save percentage of .735%. 

Orelman’s older brother Kevin plays goal for the Panther City Lacrosse Club of the NLL, and the Cobourg Kodiaks of the MSL.

The future in net is very bright for the league.  The athleticism and character of these men is second to none.  With many more up and coming stars still working their way up in the junior ranks, these men will continually be pushed to the brink of their potential, giving us some incredibly exciting games to watch.  With junior programs so strong, and so well coached, fans will be able to marvel at the exceptional play in all levels for years to come! 

Don’t forget to check out Gary and his co-host Candid Frank Stanisci’s weekly Lacrosse talk show…”NLL Lacrosse Talk” . This past week’s guest was Saskatchewan Rush’s Star Forward…Jeff Shattler

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.