Minnesota Swarm goalie Tyler Carlson earned his first career playoff win last weekend and hopes to continue the momentum. (Photo: Adam Borgstahl)
Minnesota Swarm goaltender Tyler Carlson wasn’t even scheduled to start their first-round East Division Semifinal playoff matchup on the road against the Toronto Rock this past weekend.
But when it was determined just before game time that fellow goalie Evan Kirk was sick and couldn’t play, Carlson was thrown between the pipes.
“(Kirk) came in not feeling very well,” Carlson said. “Coach Sullivan told me it might be a game-time decision, and that I might be playing, so I just got ready as if I was playing.”
When the dust had settled, Carlson was named Game MVP after compiling 54 saves on 65 shots to earn his first career playoff victory as Minnesota upset the top-seeded Rock by a score of 20-11.
“For me personally, it’s definitely a weight off my shoulders knowing that I do have a win in the playoffs,” he said. “I know there’s been goalies out there that don’t actually have any wins in the playoffs (over) their whole career, so it’s definitely something nice and a big weight off my shoulders for sure.”
The win had some added meaning for the Brampton, Ontario native as he played in front of numerous friends and family who made the 45-minute drive into Toronto.
“It’s amazing,” Carlson said. “It felt even better considering I have my family and my friends, aunts and uncles, and everybody else cheering in the stands. It’s always nice to play in front of them and get a ‘W.’”
Carlson, a rookie during Minnesota’s 2012 playoff run, started the West Division Final at home against the Edmonton Rush, but allowed four goals in less than nine minutes of play before being relieved by Kirk for the remainder of the game in the Swarm’s 15-3 loss.
With a fresh start this year, redemption was on Carlson’s mind heading into last Sunday’s game.
“It was one of those things where last year I had a little bit of jitters coming in,” he said. “(This year) I was a little bit nervous but I was able to get those first couple of shots and the defense definitely helped out a lot for me to stop the quality shots that they did get.”
As many netminders often do, Carlson credited the Minnesota defense for much of his personal success in net.
“When we just stay 5-on-5 and we stay tight as a defense, we can knock some balls down,” he said. “We just get in the right lanes and the guys make it easier for me when they get in those lanes so the ball looks like a softball out there.”
The Swarm will look for better success in this year’s Division Finals when they visit the defending champion Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, live on CBS Sports Network, for the right to play for the Champion’s Cup in the 2013 NLL Championship Game on the weekend of May 10-12.
“I think this time our team’s actually ready,” Carlson said. “We all know what’s at stake and what has to happen this year compared to last year. This year’s going to be totally different and we’re going to put our best foot forward.”