Although many of you may not have heard of Leland Irving, he is one of the promising young goalies who will be tending net in the NHL shortly.
After three incredible years playing for the Everett Silvertips (Western Hockey League), being picked in the first round of the 2006 NHL Draft by Calgary and winning a gold medal at the 2007 World Juniors (as Carey Price’s back-up), he hit the wall this past season. His save percentage dipped, goals against inflated and, worst of all, he was cut from the gold-medal Team Canada team at the World Junior Championship this past January.
Like any goalie having a rough time in net, Irving stuggled mentally which fed into further problems on the ice.
“You lose confidence and as soon as that happens, you’re scrambling every game”
“I was able to work with my goalie coach in Everett (Shane Clifford) and, before the junior camp, I was able to work through it and start putting up some great numbers.”
In addition, after the late cut from the Team Canada team most assumed he would start for, he put aside his disappointment, realized it was not the end of the world, went back to Everett and put together a great last half of the season.
“Obviously it was frustrating, especially with the camp I had,” he admitted. “I felt I gave myself every opportunity to be there but, in the end, I think it was better for me. I went back to Everett and had a strong second half, really pulled my game together.”
Leland Irving is an example of how goalies should react to adverse situations and any goalie facing such circumstances would be good to remember Leland Irving.
When struggling, goalies must focus on good practices emphasizing the basics (movement, rebound control, etc.). As well, if possible, goalie coaches should be utilized. As practice work improves so should, generally, game performance which can lead to the end of a slump.
With more devastating situations, such as being cut from a team, having perspective – which is very tough for young people – is the key. The future is unknown and opportunity always exists. So, when a goalie is cut he must put the negative feelings aside and get ready for the next challenge (next tryout and having a great season with whatever team he is playing for). If the goalie can excel during that next challenge it may become a better situation than the team he was cut from.
Opportunity always exists and it must be seized. Just like Irving did…