#30 G Tyler Carlson
Goaltenders tend to have a lot on their plate. They have to deal with the stigma of being the “weird guy” on the team, they have to find a way to maneuver within their cocoon of bulky equipment and whenever they make mistakes it usually shows on the scoreboard. If that isn’t harsh enough, there is also the fact that people are rocketing shots at their heads at horrifying speeds.
That being said, the goalie is truly the backbone of any team and can help steal a game in a way no other position can. Minnesota’s masked man Tyler Carlson has had plenty of experience being the steadying force inside the Swarm crease dating back to his rookie season in 2012. The Brampton, Ontario native holds 10 career victories (including a playoff win in 2013), and his career goals-against-average of 11.50 is the lowest in Swarm franchise history.
MNSwarm.com’s Brent Hollerud, a fellow member of the goalie brotherhood, got the opportunity to chat with the plucky Carlson, and found out about his approach to his position, his relationship with Zach Higgins and how the Swarm can sort out their recent woes on their home turf.
Hollerud: Did you start your lacrosse career between the pipes or did it take some time for you to get into goaltending?
Carlson: I did start as a player when I was younger and then one time we didn’t have a goalie so I tried it. My dad made me a real cool Taz helmet, and I loved wearing it so I kept staying in net so I could wear it, and that’s how it started.
Hollerud: In hockey, goaltending is all about angles and being able to read and react to the play in front of you. Is your strategy similar on the lacrosse field or is it an entirely different approach?
Carlson: If you compare it to hockey, pucks are only coming at you from the ground, but lacrosse you have to face so many different shots. You can have an underhand shot coming from the ground or you could have overhead and sidearm shots, there are so many different areas and apparently now guys can score from behind the net. You got to look at every single aspect and then realize that the ball can bounce itself, pucks don’t bounce.
Hollerud: Do you try and set statistical or performance-based goals for yourself each night, or is your focus simply on giving your team a chance to win?
Carlson: I feel like that is the best way to prepare. If you set statistical goals for yourself, your team would benefit from it when you hit them. I obviously like to make as many saves as I can, but if I can get ten saves a period that’s great. Obviously you’d like to save them all but if I can get ten a period I feel that gives our team a great chance to win.
Hollerud: Which player, on your team or otherwise, would you least like to see come down on a breakaway and why?
Carlson: I’m going to go with Jeff Gilbert. He’s just starting to get his scoring touch the last couple games and he’s starting this whole new wrist shot thing in practice and I can’t seem to get it yet. But I know when I do get it he won’t be scoring on me. It’s one of those times where if he doesn’t know where it’s going when he shoots how am I supposed to know?
Hollerud: With both you and Zach Higgins playing considerable minutes this year, has your preparation changed at all?
Carlson: No it’s actually just like last year with [Evan] Kirk and I, we have two incredible goalies here. With Zach, everyone has seen it, he’s incredible. I feel like it’s a great opportunity for both of us now and I’m going to go with him and try and turn this train around.
Hollerud: Is the relationship between you and Zach similar to the friendship you had with Kirk the last couple of years? Is it more of a support system or a competition between you two?
Carlson: The relationship Kirk and I had was one of a kind; we grew up playing against each other for a long time so finally playing with each other was a cool experience. But when Zach came in I was playing against him for the past couple of years and he’s an incredible goalie, he pushes me and I push him so I feel like this is a great tandem. Off the floor we’re as tight as we are on the floor.
Hollerud: You have had a couple brilliant performances this year in which you started the game on the bench, such as the most recent game against Toronto, how are you able to step into the game cold and play so well?
Carlson: I feel like I played well against Toronto, because I played against most of those guys all summer so I felt like I was seeing the ball real well. Coming off of the bench cold is different sure, without the whole warm-up but sometimes it can be better. You aren’t moving as fast, or maybe you are more nervous or whatever it is. You come in to the game and you feel like you have to do this because your team is already down and you can’t be the next guy to get pulled– you have to be on or else your team isn’t going to do well.
Hollerud: Defensively, it’s been an up-and-down season for you guys, starting the year dominant and falling into a lull in the middle. After giving up 12 and 9 goals in your last two games are you guys getting back to early-season form?
Carlson: Oh yeah I can definitely see that the guys are getting more comfortable with each other, you can see it in the room. We’re going over it in practice and the guys are definitely feeling it, and like you said the last couple games we’ve been playing incredible. Every game we have had spurts of brilliance, but we haven’t have a consistent run with it like we have had the last couple games or early in the season. We’re definitely on the right page and we’re definitely going to right this ship.
Hollerud: It’s strange that being in your third season, you are one of the veterans of this young Swarm team. In what ways do you try to assert yourself as a leader?
Carlson: I know the defense and when I’m playing I like to be vocal, I feel like if I can quarterback the defense when I’m in there, I can see the whole floor so maybe I can be of more help than someone who can’t because they are covering one guy. In the room I just try to make the rookies feel comfortable and have a laugh, so I feel like it’s my job to be the energy guy and the guy who makes it light in the locker room.
Hollerud: You guys have been so close to getting the job done at home this year but for whatever reason have come up empty. With five of your last seven at home how can you guys turn things around and get hot in front of your own crowd?
Carlson: We love playing in front of our home crowd. I feel like if we had a couple more home games in the beginning of the year it might have been a little easier to gel as a team because there’s that one aspect you don’t have to worry about– going into an opponent’s building. When we are coming to our house we know what we are going to get, and we are going to turn this around that’s all there is to it.