By Lindsay Kramer
The shots came from all angles for the first several months of the season. Everywhere San Antonio and former Phoenix RoadRunners rookie goalie Josh Tordjman turned, he faced another rip.
His only relief came in games, where the blasts he faced from opponents paled compared to the ones he kept staring down from his teammates. When you weigh 150 pounds, as does Tordjman, you tend to be as much a target of barbs from your buddies as you are of wristers from your enemies.
“The guys, they love to chirp,” Tordjman said of his teammates. “It still happens every now and then. You play along with it.”
What both the Rampage and skeptical snipers didn’t know about Tordjman, though, is how close to his heart he carries a mantra his father once told him. The expression goes “play like a lion, not like a mouse.”
So when 6-foot-4, 235-pound San Antonio and former Reading Royals forward Ryan Flinn tells the 6-foot-1 Tordjman that he’s about as muscular as a hockey stick, Tordjman taunts Flinn that he’ll stuff him on breakaway drills.
And does he carry out that threat?
“Yeah,” the self-assured Tordjman said. “He hates it when I stop him.”
And when the undrafted Tordjman came into camp barely casting a shadow and faced the challenge of stealing minutes from highly regarded prospect David LeNeveu, he puffed out his chest and went to work. LeNeveu has a 2.99 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage in 33 games; Tordjman is .918 and 2.67 in 28.
That’s enough to sway even Flinn, sort of.
“He’s so quick and so fast. I guess he makes up for girth, which is a good thing,” Flinn said. “Ah, he’s a really good goalie. He’s a tough goalie in practice. But if I can’t get it by him, I try to put it through him.”
Many shooters have bitten on that bait. Tordjman, 21, has tried for years to increase his natural padding, instead of relying upon that which he pulls on and off every game.
“My metabolism is so high,” he said. “I’ve tried (weight-gaining) stuff over the summer. But none of that really reacted with my body. I do eat a lot. But my metabolism, that kills everything.”
Rampage coach Pat Conacher learned to not put much stock in the scales when he first saw Tordjman bulk up via his goalie equipment. After a brief start to the season with Phoenix of the ECHL, Conacher made Tordjman a semi-regular in San Antonio.