LOVELAND, Colo. — Walleye goaltender Jake Paterson will start tonight in Game 4 of the Western Conference final.
Paterson, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury, will see his first action since April 25. Jeff Lerg, who has started in eight straight Kelly Cup playoff games for Toledo, is 6-3-1 with a 2.55 goals-average and .913 save percentage.
Lerg has lost two straight, and the Walleye enter the fourth game of the best-of-7 series down 2-1 to Colorado.
Paterson suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 of the opening-round series against Kalamazoo. He had posted a 3-2 record with a 3.41 goals-against average during the playoffs.
“It's exciting,” Paterson said. “Sitting out is never fun. I've watched the boys doing well, so it's been exciting from that standpoint. But you always want to be the guy in the net. It's a big game tonight.”
Paterson went 34-13-2 during the regular season with a 2.28 goals-against average and earned All-ECHL second team honors. Paterson, 23, posted seven shutouts during the regular season, a Toledo ECHL record. The 34 wins for Paterson also is a single-season Walleye record.
Walleye coach Dan Watson said the decision came down to giving Paterson a chance to get back in goal.
“Lerg has carried the load. He's done a phenomenal job,” Watson said. “But we're going to turn to Patty here. Paterson's ready to go. [Lerg] has lost two in a row. We want to give Paterson an opportunity.”
The Mississauga, Ont. native had an 11-game unbeaten in regulation streak (10-0-1) that lasted from Nov. 16 through Dec. 30.
Watson also made two more lineup changes for tonight's game. Forwards Zach Nastasiuk and Alex Globke have been taken off of the reserved list and will play tonight. Forward J.P. LaFontaine and defenseman Justin Agosta have both been placed on the reserve list.
Toledo looks to even the series against Colorado at 9:05 tonight at Budweiser Events Center.
Walleye goaltender Jake Paterson will start tonight in Game 4 of the Western Conference final. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH