Features | 2/4/2010 9:14:58 AM | Jackie Lewandowski
The difference between a good goaltender and an elite one is his ability to respond to challenges.
With the Bandits beginning their season with an 0-4 record, the pressure to respond was mounting.
“I think when you’re 0-4 everyone has to dig deep from within and take it upon themselves to be the spark that is going to turn us around,” Montour said. “Right now we have a lot of guys not playing to the best they can, myself included, and we need to elevate our games to be that spark.”
While the poor start could be attributed to the shift in style, the number of new players, and an injury of John Tavares - no one is making excuses.
“There is no question our game is in transition and when you are without your leading scorer, it is difficult to get consistent,” he said. “But it is up to me to anchor our team and be the rock on the back end. Our team will turn it around and it starts right now.”
True to his word, Montour was just one of many that rose to the occasion on Saturday night, leading the Bandits to an 11-7 win over the Minnesota Swarm to end the losing skid. He made 44 saves on 51 shots on the night, including many during crucial moments to control the momentum.
It isn't the first time Montour has been counted on to make the big save.
Last season, he boasted the most impressive numbers of his career: With a .813 save percentage and 8-3 record during the regular season, Montour was an easy selection for the 2009 NLL Goaltender of the Year.
“Winning the award felt pretty good, but I don’t take it too personal when I earn accomplishments like that,” Montour said. “It’s more for the team, and the defensemen that were playing in front of me got me that award more than anything.”
His goal this season is to keep an even keel.
“There’s always pressure in this league and you have to be able to handle it... For me, I know what I have to do to play my game, and ignore those other distractions. Sometimes it even means ignoring what the guys in front of me are doing and playing my own game. That’s when I play at my best.”
No matter how many awards he may win, Montour always sees room for improvement within his game.
“I can always get better and try working on different things that I felt I haven’t done so well to improve my game,” he said. “I look back on each season to see what I did well and what I need to work on to continue learning something from every year.”
However, one can not overlook that Montour’s play has continuously been the difference maker in many games over his five seasons with the Bandits. It was the reason he claimed the top goaltending spot in 2008 and why he is constantly looking to to get better.
Perhaps that is the reason why the Bandits were so eager to lock up their goalie till 2013 this summer, combined with the team chemistry that has formed within the squad.
“I just love playing for Buffalo. My mom grew up here and a lot of my family has grown up here and it’s where I live now” he said. “I love the city and the fans, and there is no better place to play. Game days are just the best feeling ever.”