GOODLEAF GETS HIS SHOTJan 2, 2019
By Mitchell Courtney
Hailing from the Kahnawake (Quebec) reserve off the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Knighthawks goaltender Angus Goodleaf is larger than life. A perpetual fan favorite, Goodleaf has endeared himself to the people of Rochester, and his teammates. He was voted teammate of the year in consecutive seasons in 2016 and 2017, and he always seems to be the man that his teammates gravitate towards.
“This game is fun for me,” said Goodleaf when asked about his lighthearted attitude that his teammates mention consistently. “I want everybody to have a good time because lacrosse is not supposed to be a stressful game.”
After breaking into the league with Buffalo in 2010, Goodleaf established himself as one of the league’s premier backup goaltenders; a role in which he excelled in as recently as last season. This year, however, the 31-year-old Goodleaf is expected to carry the load in between the pipes for the Knighthawks after Matt Vinc’s departure in the offseason. Although he is just now getting his first real opportunity to be a bona fide No. 1 goaltender, Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen does not think that the pressure will be too much for the oft-relied upon Goodleaf.
“I don’t think pressure really affects a guy like Gussy,” he said. “He is a low maintenance guy, and he has been a great backup for us for all of these years. He deserves the opportunity.”
Hasen’s assessments of Goodleaf’s feelings towards being the No. 1 guy in Rochester this year were almost spot on.
“I feel a little bit of pressure, but I try not to think about it,” said Goodleaf. “All of these years I have been a laid-back guy, and I still want to be that guy.”
As one might expect, Goodleaf attributes his success at the NLL level to the people who have helped him become the goaltender he is today, and he absolutely refuses to credit himself for personal achievements; reveling in humility.
“Growing up, I would come to games with my family to watch Pat O’Toole play. He is somebody that I have always looked up to,” he said. “Coming here and getting to learn from him is something that I really appreciate.”
Goodleaf further expounded upon his experience learning from one of the best goaltenders in NLL history.
“Listening to him, and how he talks about goaltending, it is fascinating.”
O’Toole, now the Knighthawks assistant coach, shares similar feelings of admiration for Goodleaf.
“From the day [Goodleaf] got here, he has done a great job for us,” said O’Toole. “Every time we have put him in net, he has stepped up. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for Rochester, we also had Matt Vinc.”
Vinc was a staple in net for the Knighthawks from 2011 to 2018. However, Goodleaf has not viewed Vinc’s time ahead of him as a detriment to his career. In fact, he credits Vinc for molding him into the player that he is today.
“I learned a lot from him,” he said. “He taught me how to be more like a professional, and how to be more consistent.”
Professionalism and consistency are not the only two things that Goodleaf credits to the now 36-year-old Bandits goaltender.
“I can attribute my longevity to being behind him for six years,” he joked. “When I came here, he was always the most consistent goalie in the league, and I soaked up a lot of things throughout our time together.”
When speaking about his first few years in the NLL with Buffalo, Goodleaf reflected on his time with the Bandits, and how he has enjoyed the transition to purple and teal.
“The team really cares about their players [in Rochester], not to say that they don’t in Buffalo because they treated me extremely well; but the organization here is over the top,” said Goodleaf. “It is a great place to be.”
Now that Vinc is suiting up for the Knighthawks’ interstate rival, Goodleaf expects their head-to-head matchups to be enjoyable.
“It is going to be fun,” he said. “I am hoping for a good battle.”
After playing behind Vinc for six seasons and being a part of two championship teams in Rochester, Goodleaf is finally getting his shot as the No. 1 guy. Fortunately for Knighthawks fans, the coaching staff and the teammates around him all believe that he can lead them to another championship in 2019.
Although a championship is obviously the ultimate goal, Goodleaf says that he has always attempted to live in the moment and enjoy every second of being a part of the NLL and the Knighthawks organization.
“I never thought I would play for the Knighthawks when I was growing up, but even now, I am just taking every moment that comes to me and rolling with it.”