Ask any hockey fan, player or coach and they'll say the same thing. A hot goaltender can take you far in the playoffs.
The Sioux City Musketeers have had two great goaltenders all year in Collin Olson and Kyle Hayton. But it's Hayton heating up in the postseason.
The Muskies net minder has been lights out in the crease so far. Hayton has stopped 73 of the 77 shots he's faced so far, good for a .948 save percentage, tops in the league.That's almost 5 percentage points better than the next best goalie.
Hayton also has the top mark in goals against, giving up just 1.97 goals so far, also tops in the playoffs. And while Hayton has the hot hand right now, the Muskies have confidence in whoever's between the pipes.
"He's been unreal," said Brandon Hawkins, the Musketeers' leading goal scorer. "He's been very good lately. I'm happy to say we have him back there."
"Our goaltending, whether it's (Hayton) or Collin, (Hayton's) got the hot hand right now and he's playing great," said Jared Thomas, the Musketeers' leading point scorer. "And if he has an off night, Collin's going to step in and do well too."
"I just think we've got two really good goaltenders," said Jay Varady, Head Coach of the Musketeers. "We've seen them both play great all year, it was just a situation where we went with Kyle and he was there for us."
"It's a new type of stress," said Kyle Hayton, the Musketeers' Goaltender. "Playoffs, the best players play their best in the playoffs."
Now whoever's in net on Friday, that decision is made Thursday night, hopefully they'll have a rowdy home crowd on their side.
Sioux City has a chance to win its first playoff series since 2005. That was also the last time the Muskies made it to the Clark Cup Finals.
So with the series on the line, the players are hoping the home crowd can help make a difference in the game.
"That's the biggest thing," said Hawkins. "Home ice advantage is a big thing for us. We like to play anywhere but it's a big advantage when we have our home crowd behind us. It's a great thing. It's unreal to play at home, especially when we have the best fans in the league."
"We're a good home team," said Thomas. "We're sitting in the driver's seat right now and we just have to go out there and play the same way and just take it game by game."
The Muskies take on Omaha in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semis this Friday (4/18). Puck drops at the Tyson at 7:05, the first 1,500 fans will get free rally towels.
Tell your friends, bring your family, get down to the Tyson on Friday and help give the Musketeers that home ice advantage!