His last start was a shutout and his goals-against-average is second best in the Western Hockey League, but that might not be enough to get Mac Engel the start when the Western Hockey League playoffs start Friday.
That’s not a bad thing for the Spokane Chiefs because the other choice is James Reid, who is fourth in the league in GAA and holds the franchise record for wins.
The either-or possibility isn’t good for the Chilliwack Bruins, who have to prepare for two goalies with different styles before the best-of-7 series opens Friday in Chilliwack.
“We have the luxury of two good goalies right now,” Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. “I won’t have a problem if one falters giving the other one the reins. Our philosophy isn’t going to change. If you play well you stay in, if you don’t play well somebody else is going to get a shot at it.”
“I don’t go for the early hook. But I have a feel for a guy that is getting beat with good shots or is struggling to see the puck, struggling with the puck to make the save.”
Reid, who has 85 career wins, is 35-9-2-1 this season with a 2.57 GAA and four shutouts. He is 2-1 against the Bruins.
Engel, a rookie, is 13-8-2-1 with a 2.30 GAA and four shutouts. He is 1-0 against Chilliwack and was the league goalie of the month for February when Reid was injured.
“I don’t have a qualm putting either guy in there,” Nachbaur said. “Mac has been outstanding. He’s been on top of his game, that’s for sure.
“I’m pretty confident with ‘Reider’ just because of his experience.”
Reid won the season-ending game against high-powered Portland on Sunday but was pulled in the first period against Tri-City the night before.
Last Friday, Engel was on the back end of a 5-0 win over Seattle, which came just two nights after Reid stopped both Chilliwack attempts in a shootout win after stopping all five shootout opportunities in the game before that.
Nachbaur is in no hurry to make a decision.
“It’s too early to say that right now,” Nachbaur said before Tuesday’s practice at Eagles Ice-A-Rena. “We have three practices to see who is sharp. I think I have a hunch who is starting for us, but I have to reaffirm that.”
Nachbaur doesn’t want to tip his hand, forcing the Bruins to spend time watching video of both.
It was that recent matchup that allows the Chiefs to concentrate on one goalie. Lucas Gore made 77 saves in that game, which is believed to be a WHL record.
Gore went 31-23-3-4 for the season, losing all three starts to the Chiefs. In October Braden Gamble was in goal for the Bruins’ 2-1 win. Gore blanked Everett in his season-ending game on Saturday.
The Chiefs will spend a lot of time watching Gore’s recent performance to see how they can slip some pucks past him. The Bruins are going to spend twice as much time analyzing Spokane or half as much on each goalie.