January 29, 2014

MacDonald Shines to Keep Edmonton Unbeaten

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

MacDonald held the Stealth scoreless over a 34 minute stretch to help anchor an Edmonton rally that put them at 4-0. (Photo by Troy Landreville/Langley Advance)

Brodie MacDonald doesn't get a lot of floor time but, when he does, he makes a difference for the Edmonton Rush.

He pulled on his helmet 16 seconds into the second quarter after Vancouver went up 4-1 on starting goaltender Aaron Bold last Saturday night and, after being nicked for three as the Stealth snatched a 7-1 lead, MacDonald blanked them for the next 34 minutes to give his teammates a chance to rally, which they did. Edmonton won 9-8 to remain the only undefeated team in the NLL at 4-0.

His floor time has been so limited that it is difficult to gauge his capabilities. So far this season, with Bold again getting most of the starts, MacDonald has only been in the nets for 44 minutes 44 seconds in that one game. He played a grand total of 112 minutes last season, getting credit for one win, and a meagre 23 minutes the previous year. The win over the Stealth doubled his career total.

''Whatever they need me to do,'' he replies when asked to define his role. ''If they need me to back up and be ready to come in, I do that. If they need me to start, I am fully capable of doing that. The Edmonton Rush have two starting goalies but only one net to defend.''

Getting a win last weekend in the same Langley (British Columbia) Events Center where he plays summer ball in the Western Lacrosse Association was supremely satisfying. He was the WLA's 2013 goalie of the year and he had plenty of fan support in the Stealth barn, although it didn't alter his approach.

''I love the LEC but put me on the moon and I play the same,'' says MacDonald.

Being No. 1 with the Thunder has been important to his development.

''Although my playing time is limited in the NLL, I spend my summers starting 18 games for the Langley Thunder and that keeps me into it.''

MacDonald, 24, lives in Vernon, B.C., where he sometimes works as a cable technician, dabbles in cabinetry and other woodwork, and builds custom motorcycles.

''My dream would be to make it my full-time job,'' he says of his cycles. ''I've done several old Japanese bikes turning them into bobbers, stretch and hard-tailing of frames, gas tank fabrications and paint jobs. I would like to start doing ground-up buildings around crate engines. That's the goal.''

He's been heard to say ''my garage'' when asked where he likes to vacation.

He can't ride a motorcycle to NLL games so he flies out of Kelowna, B.C.

''I usually meet up with Cory Conway and Jarrett Davis in Calgary and boot over to Edmonton,'' he says.

He's six foot seven and 290 pounds so he's an imposing figure when he takes ownership of a crease.

MacDonald was drafted by Philadelphia, 19th overall, in 2010 and dressed for one game in 2011 without seeing game action.

''The players on the Wings were great guys,'' he says. ''I really enjoyed them, but I am happy playing for a team (in Edmonton) so close to home. It's also great that a teammate of mine with the Wings, Alex Turner, is my roommate when I'm in Edmonton. We're both B.C. Interior guys and are best of friends.''

MacDonald and Turner were acquired by the Rush as part of the trade that sent Brodie Merrill to the Wings.

''I try to make the gym at least five days a week,'' he replies when asked about his training regimen. ''I prefer full body movements and Olympic lifts.''

He names the late NHL player Bob Probert as one of his favorite athletes.

''Bob Probert was the man,'' he says. ''I love combat. My grandfather was a boxer and ran the boxing club in Vernon for 50 years. Probert was the greatest hockey fighter of all time, and the guy could play hockey.''

Having one of the NLL's best corps of defensemen is helping keep the Rush at the top of the overall standings.

''Kyle Rubisch is a great lacrosse player,'' says MacDonald. ''His reflexes for picking off passes is crazy. Chris Corbeil and Brett Mydske are in the same boat. They are unbelievable defenders _ along with the rest of the D squad.''

There is more than that to the 4-0 record, he adds.

''I believe we are undefeated because we have so many character players who are willing to buy into the system. Our defense is legendary and we've got rock-solid goaltending.''

He wears 50 on his back. When he played Jr. B lacrosse for the Vernon Tigers, he needed the biggest sweater available and that was No. 50 and ''I just kept it rolling.'' The GM of his Burnaby junior team, Rich Zechel, stressed goaltending fundamentals, and Lakers goalie coach Kevin Hill taught him to use his size to best advantage.

''I owe a lot of my success to his teachings,'' says MacDonald.

And now he's in his third season as a full-fledged if seldom-used NLL goaltender. I'm predicting we're soon going to be hearing a lot more about MacDonald. What we've learned so far is that he's part of the best 1-2 goaltending tandem in the league, and that he's an interesting and colorful character. And he's big.

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