Do You Have What it Takes to Succeed in Goaltending

July 31, 2008

What makes one goalie better than another?

1. Daily Work Ethic

Today there are many kids who simply believe they should be named to whichever team they want (not to mention the “starter”) without any understanding of the work it takes. Like the real world, there is no entitlement in goaltending or hockey. Every start, every save, every win must be earned and those are only available to hard working goalies.

 I recall growing-up with my Dad telling me “Kevin, somewhere someone is working harder than you.” I never wanted to hear it but it taught me dedication to hard work is the only path to success. To this day, whenever I’m comfortable, I recall his words and focus on working harder.

Goalies, who want to excel, must work hard every drill in every practice. Every shot must be competed for as if it’s during a game.

For kids who are entering Bantam-age, off-ice work is vital. Improving strength, speed, flexibility and reviewing game film (if available) is a must to any serious goalie.

The goalies with incredible daily work ethics achieve success, those who don’t eventually wish they had.

2. Passion for the Position

A great goalie has a burning desire to make a difference for his team and become the best. He is never afraid of any challenge (facing a breakaway, playing in sudden-death overtime, etc) because he relishes anytime he is in net (including practice). Goalies with passion make themselves and their team better.

3. Attitude/Character

Many goalies spend time worrying about their playing time and stats. Simply, those players are selfish and rarely have respectable careers. All successful goalies continually work to improve, want to be the difference for their team, refuse to place blame on others for failures and recognize no success comes without hard work. Goalies concentrating on effort and what is best for their team succeed while others are disappointed.

4. Confidence/Leadership

Hard work, success and having passion creates confidence in a goalie. Confident goalies command respect and leadership opportunities. Goalies are not allowed to wear the “C’ or “A” but they can lead the team even more effectively than the team’s designated leadership. All teams follow the path of their goalie.

5. Love of the Game

Hockey is a special game and goalies should embrace the fact they are playing the most important position in the world’s fastest game. Any chance to watch a game, from their own level through the NHL, should be taken advantage of. The speed, grace, physicality, and intensity create a game unparalleled in the world of sport. All goalies should appreciate what the game offers and watch at every opportunity.

6. Resilience/Mental Toughness

Through the years I have said hockey prepares young men for life. This is particularly true for goalies. Jacques Plante, considered by many as the greatest goalie to ever play, asked, “How would you like it if at your job, every time you made the slightest mistake a little red light went on over your head and 18,000 people stood up and screamed at you?” Goalies must learn to be thick-skinned, deal well with adversity, remain relaxed and focused among chaos and rely on themselves within a team atmosphere. All of these are vital traits for real life. The best goalies know what they can control and realize the rest is “noise.”

7. Understand the Position

Being a hard working athlete and having excellent skills takes a goalie only so far – there is much, much more to the position. They must play “smart” and be familiar with the ongoing consistent “patterns” that occur throughout the game – none of which come naturally.

How are these assets formed? It begins with the willingness to learn, followed by good coaching, experience, and watching other goalies.

8. Knowing Your Strengths/Weaknesses

The best goalies own a mirror and aren’t afraid to look into it. They know their strong and weak parts of their game. Constant reflection on ability/performance is a must with the commitment to work on problem-areas and reinforce strengths.  

9. Ability to Adjust

Hockey changed dramatically with rules on obstruction/interference three years ago. Attacking players were given more time to shoot – creating more accurate shots. Blocking goalies (i.e. butterfly style) had to change their game to succeed or risk the chance of getting left behind. The game will always change and goalies must recognize the differences and be willing to adjust their game.

10. Fighting Spirit

When the puck is loose in the crease (or just outside) the goalie must do anything to get their gloves/pad/stick on it. As well, if the goalie is caught out of position, they must fight to make the save no matter the likelihood of success. This seems like common sense but, apparently, it’s not. I’ve witnessed many goalies at all levels allow unnecessary scoring chances or give up when out-of-position. I’ve never understood this!  A goalie’s main responsibility is to prevent goals and they need to do whatever it takes (within the rules) to get the job done.


Anchoring the Pads

July 31, 2008

We have noticed through the camp and any other time we work with younger goalies, they (and their parents) need help understand what to do with the skate lace ties at the toes of the leg pads. Vaughn Hockey, who has made some of the best goal gear for many years, has instruction on their site so I thought I would post it here in attempt to help all the young keepers and their parents.

We hear the question often on what is the right way to use tie-on-toes. Young goalies especially have difficulties figuring this out until someone shows them the correct way.

Tie-on-toes have become more popular than the old style toe buckles for 2 reasons:

1.       They anchor the pads on their place more effectively.

2.       They are much more durable and maintenance free.

With the following images and instructions you can anchor your pads properly with tie-on-toes

1.       Set the pad in front of the skate and position the laces so that the pad is centered.

2.       Criss-cross the laces through the holes in the blade and pull the pad tightly to the  blade.

3.       Bring laces up on top of the skate and pull them tight on top of your skate laces.

4.       Here you see correctly tied tie-on-toes.

5.       Here’s another angle to give you a better view.

6.       Bring the pad up or kneel down on it and tie the straps starting from the bottom ones.

7.       Here’s an example of a properly anchored pad with tie-on-toes.


Posted with permission from Vaughn Hockey.

Local Kid, Richard Bachman, in the Star’s Plans

July 31, 2008

Richard Bachman of Denver had a stellar freshman year at Colorado College so his stock has risen considerable in the NHL Dallas Stars system. He returns to CC this season and, as I understand, if he continues to play very well, will leave CC after the season to begin his pro career.

Below is the text from the link above about the goalie from our area-

Richard Bachman — Bachman, Dallas’ fourth-round pick (No. 120) in the 2006 draft, is coming off a spectacular freshman season with Colorado, going 25-9-1 with a 1.85 GAA, a .931 save percentage and four shutouts.  He was named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association Division I Rookie of the Year and the WCHA Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year.

“He took advantage of his opportunity at CC and played very well,” White said. “He won all kinds of accolades. He’s a very down-to-earth, athletic kid whose stock is only going to get better over the course of time. Goalies take a little longer to develop, but he’s certainly on the right track.”

The Stars have a history of being patient with their goaltenders, and they have no intention of rushing Bachman.

“He’s going back to Colorado College in the fall, where we’d like him to continue his sound play and continue to improve,” White said. “He’s a good athlete, he stops the puck and he plays the puck well, which fits the mold of how we like our goalies to be. He’s doing all the right things.”

Miller’s Will to Compete

July 30, 2008

Ryan Miller is one of the best young goalies in the NHL Watch this video of him making an incredible save against the Bruins.

Did he make the save because of his ability and talent?

Not necessarily.

The save may have been made more due to his willingness to compete on every shot. He was clearly beat with the pass back to the slot. But, Miller, like many goalies at all levels of play, refuses to be beat and finds a way to make the save.

Net Lesson

A goalie must never give up on any shot and do whatever he can to keep the puck out-of-the-net. No matter how impossible the save seems, the goalie owes it to his team to compete for every shot. They must have Miller’s Will to Compete.

Leclaire Signs with Blue Jackets

July 30, 2008

With the signing of Pascal Leclaire, all the top young goalies are off the market with everyone staying with their original teams. Fleury, Miller and now Leclaire, who had a breakout season last year including 5 shutous in his first 9 starts. Contract keeps him in Columbus through 2010-11 season.

Raycroft – “I Know I Still Have It”

July 29, 2008

Many people have given up on Andrew Raycroft after his time with the Maple Leafs. But… with the move to Denver, he will bounce back and become a steal for the Avalanche. He was a very good goalie traded to a poor excuse of an NHL franchise in Toronto. Hope he takes advantage of the opportunity because they don’t come along often.

The Successful or The Unsuccessful

July 29, 2008

“Because the demands on a goalie are mostly mental, it means that for a goalie, the biggest enemy is himself. Not a puck, not an opponent, not a quirk of size or style. Him. The stress and anxiety he feels when he plays, the fear of failing, the fear of being embarrassed, the fear of being physically hurt, all the symptoms of his position, in constant ebb and flow, but never disappearing. The successful goalie understands these neuroses, accepts them, and puts them under control. The unsuccessful goalie is distracted by them, his mind in knots, his body quickly following.”

 Ken Dryden – The Game