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Posted by on in Alexander


At a very young age, it is normally not a factor in goaltender selection, but, unfortunately, as you move up the hockey chain, some coaches believe it is a factor. Sometimes, one will see it at the U13 & U15 level but, probably it starts to really become a factor at U18.  But don’t despair. Not everyone grows at the same rate & oftentimes, those who are above average height at 12 – 14 years will not grow at the same rate as they get older or may even stop growing.  And those who are average height or less at those years will catch up or exceed the norm.  In any event, there is room for the smaller goaltender beyond Minor/Youth Hockey or High School.   And there is still a place in Major Junior/Tier I for the smaller goaltender &, most certainly, the smaller goaltender can flourish at the Junior A or Junior B/Tier II level.  

Beyond that, U Sport, NCAA, ECHL, AHL and European teams are options open to those who have the skill but do not achieve the "supposedly ideal" 6' 2" height for an NHL goaltender.  Understand, reaching the NHL is no easy task, even with the size factor.  At any given time, there are only 62 (64 in 2022) goaltenders playing there and they come from every part of the world.  So, your competition is not only the kid on the next block or in the next town, but the kid playing minor hockey in Switzerland, Sweden, Finland or Germany or Russia. 


My advice to any goaltender, who is shorter in stature than your peers, is to not bury your dreams, but understand what your situation is and take steps to improve your chances at playing at a higher level (if that is truly what you want) by working on and improving those parts of your game to get you there. 
So, here are some things you need to be to maximize your ability to compete at any level, no matter what your size.  You can achieve proficiency in most of these even without the help of a coach. 



- athletic (possess incredible agility, balance & co-ordination with speed) These elements can be developed away from the ice surface, but a certain amount requires on-ice time (see the next element below)  

*not all goaltenders will have the physiological capabilities to achieve a high level of athleticism.  So then, positioning becomes a much more important factor 


- a superior skater (master at using inside edges to position, or reposition on skates in control and on balance) 
Spend on ice time working on inside edge control, crease skating drills & team skating  

- unmatched in lateral movement (controlled speed & power in lateral movements on skates or in a slide)  

- a student of the game (watches games played at all levels; observing player tendencies and play patterns and how shots are generated and from which locations in the defensive zone they originate) 

- excellent at reading the shot release (using complete puck focus and shooter information such as hand/puck/shoulder position to determine height, velocity and shot location immediately as the puck is leaving the stick blade) 


- near perfect at tracking shots (actually sees pucks make contact with their equipment (stick, pads etc.) & rebounds moving away from your equipment & can FIND the flight path of the puck through screens & front net traffic situations) 

- a master at being patient & staying up and on skates (patient and confidently remaining on skates and only moves to make the save after the PUCK HAS LEFT THE STICK BLADE & the velocity & trajectory is known) The exception being close in, tight, shot situations where the higher percentage play is to use a down, butterfly or RVH, blocking position 

- near perfect at positioning (must always have proper angle and depth on every shot and must arrive "on time", every time, so feet are set and skates, hips & shoulders are square to the puck "BEFORE" the shot released – in the case of a lateral slide the same squareness must be prioritized) 


- strong mentally (develop your mental toughness & “grit” to handle the ups & downs of goaltending) 


A few other non-technical, non-tactical necessary elements. 

has a “never give up” attitude 

works harder than any of his team mates every off or on ice session 

wants to be the best  

wants to learn 



Posted by on in Alexander

I know this is not something most goaltenders have ever given a thought but, I can tell you, most certainly, it is a topic that comes up often in discussion among coaches, recruiters & scouts.   
Is he/she coachable?

Perhaps there is no more important quality in a player than to be eager to learn.  And, probably no quicker way to become a better goaltender. 

So, who exactly is the "coachable" athlete? I suggest it is the goaltender who WANTS to be in the net every second of the game; who ACCEPTS the fact that they do make mistakes and who LEARNS from those mistakes; who TAKES RESPONSIBILITY for their performance (good or bad); who SEEK out help from their coach or mentor and are ALWAYS looking to improve.  Their mind is open to new things & new ways to do things.  They take advice WILLINGLY, and though they believe in themselves, they understand that they are where they are BECAUSE OF OTHERS.  And, that they need others to become the success they desire to be.

A coachable goaltender is one who shows up at the rink PREPARED, whether practice or game. They are always ready to get better and want to be the best they can be. They are energetic and enthusiastic. They are first on the ice and last to leave and always looking to do more.  

And they give you their FULL ATTENTION when you speak to them. 

Unfortunately, I've seen my share of goaltenders over the past 27 years coaching WHO DO/WILL NOT accept constructive advice or the fact that there might be another way to do something or that something they are presently doing might be improved.  They will nod their head and appear to agree, but they are not really engaged in what is being said. And then they just keep doing exactly the same thing as they did before the conversation. 

As a coach this is has to be one of the most frustrating & disappointing encounters one can have.  

Without a word being said, they are telling the coach "I am not really interested in what you have to say".  The minimum here would be to at least give it a try.  

​​I trust none of this sounds familiar to anyone reading this because it has been my experience that these goaltenders really struggle to put any kind of meaningful goaltending career together beyond Minor/Youth Hockey.   
I suspect all coaches would welcome that the goaltender simply say, "I don't agree coach, I see it this way" or "I'd prefer to try this way, because...." or "Can you explain to me why this is important?”  At the very least this would produce some dialogue.  And, from that dialogue perhaps a common ground can be reached.

So, the message here folks is: unless you are already a "SUPER STAR" you better learn quickly to be/become "Coachable".

"The difference between a good player and a great player is that a good player thinks he or she is good, and a great player always believes they can be better, “A great player is an athlete who is never satisfied.”  Bob Deraney


Posted by on in Alexander

Perhaps most of you have heard the saying “the devil is in the DETAILS”.  (meaning something that is taken to be simple will require more effort and time than expected or, inattention to details will cause failure or, small things, thought to be insignificant can cause serious problems) 
And, how true in goaltending. Given that a group of goaltenders are roughly in the same age bracket & playing in the same category (U18, U15, Major Junior etc.), what really separates one from the other?  Sure, there will be differences in size & styles but, most will have similar characteristics to their game. So, then, the real separator becomes the DETAILS in their game.  Make no mistake, when a scout/recruiter/team GM puts their stamp of approval on a goaltender as a draft selection or as a successfull candidate to make their team, DETAILS are the determining factor. 
Unfortunately, far too often goaltenders neglect the DETAILS.  And, the result of not paying attention to DETAILS is to forgo long term success because they don't want to take the extra few seconds or minutes to do the drill or movement as best (not perfectly) they possibly can or as they are asked to do.  Or maybe they think they don't have to because they believe they are a top end goaltender at their level & really don't have to work on those things.  Better buckle up then, because the road ahead will be rocky. 
If professionals have to work on DETAILS, you probably should, at least, think about it 
So, what are these dang DETAILS?  
DETAILS are found in your off-ice training.  "That last rep doesn’t matter.  I’ll just do 9. After all, is there any real difference between 9 & 10." "Yeah, I can skip this work out and take in a movie with my buddies. I’ve already trained once this week.  Don’t want to tire myself out too badly, plus I can make up the work out next week."  "I don't really need to push myself hard, just make sure I'm not last in line".   
DETAILS are part of the things you do (or don't do) during your games.  Do you have the post totally sealed off every time you move into an RVH?  Do you always track pucks completely into your body/equipment and track the rebound (if there is one) out and away?  Do you lean your upper body in the direction of the shot trajectory when executing a glove save?  Do you bring your catching glove under & up when you trap pucks against your upper body?  Do you often shoulder check & scan the ice peripherally when opposition players do not have the puck in a scoring position? 
These, folks, are just a very small sample of the DETAILS that should be part of an elite goaltender's game.  To understand where all these details are, I suggest that every goaltender should, at some point early every season, sit with paper & pencil and list every detail of every save movement, every positioning movement & every re-positioning movement they use during a game.  (get lots of paper) 

Yes, the attention to DETAILS require discipline. But, understand that, from attention to DETAILS (or not), you develop habits whether good or bad.  And that strong, good habits formed from mindful attention to DETAILS are the foundation of a successful, elite goaltender.   Yet, day in and day out, goaltenders neglect to pay attention to them.  Hopefully YOU are not among THEM. 
The difference between something "good" and something "great" is attention to detail. 
Charles M. Swindoll



Posted by on in Alexander

Confidence!  It is a corner stone on which successful goaltending is built.

Confidence inspires you to play at a top of your game; playing at the top of your game inspires confidence.  The question is, which comes first?  Perhaps it is a bit of both.  But, make no mistake, self-confidence is crucial to performing at your highest level.

If you are confident, you'll be better able to handle difficult situations - those times during competition when things go wrong.  Your demeanour both on and off the ice will reflect that confidence and your attitude will be "play to win" and not a "try not to lose" mentality, which will influence your team mates & inspire confidence in them as well.

On the other hand, when you aren't confident, you'll struggle with mistakes, likely become frustrated and play too cautiously.  You become tense, your movements are no longer smooth, you "fight" the puck, you create rebounds and overplay situations.

So, if we understand how important confidence is to our performance, why do we struggle with confidence issues from time to time, and more importantly, how do you acquire/maintain/regain confidence.

From our experience, confidence seems more evident when the goaltender focuses on his/her strong points (what are the things I do really well?) and not their deficiencies or weaknesses.  There is no room for negativity if you are to perform at your best.  

Confident goaltenders concern themselves only with the things they can control (emotions, preparation, attitude, thoughts).  We also note that, generally, the more prepared the individual is, the more likely they are to play with confidence.

And, that leads us to one of the most important elements that will affect confidence - PREPARATION.  We've talked about pre-game preparation many times before & we are firm believers that the better prepared physically and mentally (and especially mentally) you are to play, the more likely you will play with confidence.  There is something about routine and familiarity that gives us a feeling of comfort and preparedness.  And, never underestimate the use of mental imagery to boost and maintain confidence

If you noticed, all the things we mentioned in the previous paragraph are controllable by the goaltender.  As a starting point,

1. make a list of what you can control
2. make a list of those things you can’t control
3. forget those things you can't control.

Remember, there definitely will be ups & downs in your game and it is natural that you will struggle with confidence at times.  The secret is to understand that it will happen, and to believe in yourself and that what you are doing will bring positive results over the long run.  

Understand the process, what got you to where you are today (hard work, motivation, dedication, on & off ice training, good personal choices).  Understand, as well, that your skills don't just "suddenly" leave you.  They don't say "that's it, I'm done" and go away.  More likely, you are hi-jacking your skills with negativity.  Our experience is that, goaltenders get into trouble with confidence when they start thinking the game, thinking about their mistakes or their team mates mistakes, the referee, missed opportunities, what their team mates think, what the coach thinks, what the fans think....the better able you can control that "little voice" inside your head the more likely you will play with confidence. 

No one can "give" you confidence and no one can take it from you.  Your confidence (or lack of) is in your hands (or, more exactly, in your head)  Understand the things (negative thoughts, unmet expectations, mistakes etc.) that affect your confidence level and focus on replacing those thoughts (the little voice inside your head) with the notion that you can get through this because you are doing all the "right things" and that this is just one small bump in the road in your journey to becoming the best goaltender you can be.

Confidence is preparation.  Everything else is beyond your control. - Richard Kline



Posted by on in Alexander

“CONSISTENCY beats Talent. Because it’s not what you do once in a while that matters, it’s what you do every single day”. #ChampionMinded 

In the world of hockey, consistency is something that every coach wants & expects from his/her goaltender. 


Why? Because if a goaltender is consistent, coaches know they can count on him/her to deliver a solid performance game in and game out and this allows the coach to formulate a game plan based around that without fear that things could go “south” sometime during the match.  


So, what effect does your consistency have on the team?   


  • Your team will play with more confidence because you are giving them a chance to win every game 

  • It gives everyone that extra layer of security so they can play their game without doubt, knowing that you are going to handle your end & that you are reliable and dependable  

As a consistent goaltender, what you don’t need is: 


  • To be flashy or super aggressive 

  • To play a perfect technical game 

  • To not allow yourself to make mistakes 

  • To let pressure situations overwhelm you 


What you must do from game to game is: 


  • Keep the number of mistakes you make to a minimum 

  • Keep your emotions in check & your energy level steady  

  • Keep the "lights out one day, play below average the next" performances to a minimum 


What leads to lack of consistency? 


1. Lack of pre-game preparation. I cannot emphasize this enough.  Preparation is the key to so much of a goaltender’s success because being inconsistent there will lead to inconsistent performances.  Other inconsistent habits we develop when we are away from the rink such as not following a regular off ice training program or sound nutritional, rest & sleep habits will also lead to lack of consistency on ice. 


2. Thinking we are good enough. Sometimes we like to relax and think “we’ve made it”.  Understand the toughest part is not necessarily “making it”, it’s staying there. If you aren’t getting better every day; you are getting worst and at some point, everybody else passes you by. 


3. You aren’t confident.  To be consistent requires confidence.  And you won’t develop confidence by second guessing yourself every time things go wrong.  Simply put, confidence is having faith & trust in what you are doing.  You don’t have to necessarily win the “big game” or get a shutout to develop confidence.  And, at those times when you don’t feel confident, try “faking it”.  You might be surprised. 


4. You lack a little mental toughness.  The smallest things upset you during the game & then you have trouble regaining focus.  Soon, the little distractions pile up and soon it affects your game.  Understand what is happening and that you need to address this.  You probably are as mentally tough as the next guy; you just don’t know how to deal with what is happening. If that is the case then you need to have a serious discussion with someone who can help.  Because of the nature of the position, and the pressures, goaltending, in itself is a real mental challenge. 

I encourage every goaltender who competes at an elite level to seek out the advice of a mental coach WHETHER YOU THINK YOU NEED IT OR NOT.  It is definitely one sure way to “up your game consistency” and your success. 





Posted by on in Alexander
Game day preparation is vital to the success of a goaltender, especially at a high caliber level of competition.  To neglect this important area is to jeopardize your potential to play at your best.  Proper preparation will give you a sense of control over the things you can control (emotions, reactions, attitude etc.) which in turn will give you confidence and you will go into the competition feeling at ease and comfortable. 
Prepare for the opposition 
1.  Through your own experience or by viewing video or statistics, determine “players to watch” on the opposing team.  This prepares you to deal with the better players on the opposing team because you know who they are and their tendencies.  (usually the “better” players are the “better” players game in and game out) 
2.  Again, through your own experience, or simply ask your coach, determine how this team gains entry into your zone. (wide rim/dump-in at the blue line or puck possession zone entries) This will help you to look for the cues to read the play better as it develops inside your blue line.  It will also influence the need for communication between you & your defense & how you work puck retrieval situations 
3.  Similarly, you want to learn the opposition tendencies once they penetrate into the defensive zone.  In puck possession zone entry situations, do they like to generate scoring opportunities off the rush or take the puck deep work the play from there?  Is there a pattern to their play when they recover a dump in? How do they set up in power play situations? Having even just a little knowledge of these things improve your chances for success. 
Prepare your mind 
Breathing: take 5 minutes and work on your breathing (this helps calm your mind and relaxes your body) 
Inhale for a count of two… hold the breath in for a count of one… exhale gently, counting out for four…  and finish by holding the breath out for a count of one. Keep your breathing even and smooth. If the 2-4 count feels too short try increasing the breath lengths to 4 in and 6 out, or 6 in and 8 out, and so on.  There are many variations of breathing exercises so try several & use whatever works best for you. Controlled breathing is also beneficial during the game whenever you feel nervous or to settle yourself after a goal is scored. 
Visualization: 5 – 10 minutes of visualization work will effectively bring you into “game mode” 
Find a quite spot without distractions.  Create a mental image (visualization) of different game situations in your mind as though they were happening, and you were   looking at them through your own eyes. (watch the puck coming at you and hitting your equipment, or you catching the puck or controlling the rebound. In other words, you are successfully making the save. Try to do this for 5 - 10 minutes.  It will be difficult at first and perhaps you will only be able to concentrate for a few minutes.  But as you practice more you will be able to concentrate longer. 

Visualization is the single most important, not technical tool of the elite athlete 
(visualization and breathing exercises can and should be practiced several times per week away from the rink) 
Physical Warm-up (typical) 
1.  Dynamic stretch / warm-up (10 minutes) 
2.  Technical movements include quickness and agility exercises (5 minutes) 
3.  Hand/eye drills with tennis balls or “reaction” balls either alone or with your goaltending partner.  (5 minutes) 

First couple of minutes – skating & movement drills (saves & crease movements, slides – do outside the crease) then team warm up (discuss with your coach & team mates the most effective warm up for you) 
Focus on the process of the warm up and not whether a shot goes by you and into the net   
Pick one or two self-reminds to take with you into the game.  Here is a quick list of some self-reminders you might use: 

- track the puck into and away from your body 
- focus on getting into position quickly on passes 
- re-position quickly on rebounds 
- set my feet before every shot 
- fight to find pucks in traffic 
- be patient 
- be under control (physically & emotionally) 
- help my “D” by communicating with them 
- get out & handle all pucks that are near the net 
- battle for every puck 



Posted by on in Alexander

I like to watch team practices whenever I can.  I find I can learn a lot about a goaltender simply by the way they practice. One of the first things I look for is commitment on their part to stop every puck (even in desperation save situations) & secondly, what they do with their “down time” (not engaged in drills or drill explanations).

​​It is truly amazing to see the number who just let shots go by without really attempting to stop them and/or stand idly leaning up against the net or side of the rink during their “unproductive time”.  Of course, there are many other parts of the technical & tactical game I will take note of, but those two items are always first.  I dare say most recruiters, or scouts follow much the same pattern.
Before I move on to the best practice "practices", understand it is my belief that the old saying "you play like you practice" is exactly true....if you give your best effort in practice you'll do the same in the game; if you pay attention to details in practice you will in a game.  For the goaltender, I think this so much more important because your play, good or bad, could determine the outcome of a game.  I also believe that every goaltender needs to take responsibility for their development and needs to engage in a certain amount of self-coaching and that practice is the only opportunity a goaltender gets to really work on skill development.
Here are some observations that will make practice more productive for you:

prepare for the ice time; make sure your body is warmed up and stretched before you get on the ice.  Time on ice is meant for developing skills, not for warming up and stretching

pay attention when drills are being explained;  Think about the role you could play in drill (don’t be afraid to jump in and ask your coach how you could be a part of the drill particularly if it is a breakout or regroup) or how you can use the drill to improve your technical or tactical skills if it is a shooting drill or a defensive zone entry.  Many of the drills used at practice will mimic game situations and likely you will see other teams in your league use some form of that particular practice drill to create scoring opportunities once they enter the defensive zone.  This helps your ability to read the play.

have a plan for each practice; you need to go on the ice with a goal or an objective.  Otherwise you will tend to just “float” through practice & come off ice without really producing any positive result except for a bit of perspiration (maybe). Discuss it with your position coach, if you have one, before going on the ice.  Perhaps it is something you want to improve on from your last game such as keeping your hands ahead of your body in stance, keeping your stick on the ice and in your 5-hole.  Basically, anything you want to become better at

get your skating in first; as soon as you step on the ice, head for a crease and do your skating drills.  You need to work on skating every practice.  Ask your coach first so he can keep one net clear from player shooting at the beginning of each practice

practice tracking every shot; From the time it leaves the shooter’s stick, as it comes into your body and you smother it or catch it or direct the rebound away with your blocker, pad or stick keep your eyes focused on & your nose pointed to the puck
physically reposition on rebounds; if you cannot, (sometimes the spacing between shots does not permit time to physically reposition on rebounds) at least continue to visually track pucks after you make the save 
work on your in-game communication skills; vocalize information to your team-mates when the team is working power play or penalty kill or breakouts.  It will be easier to transfer this skill to games if you have already practiced it.  (ask your coach to put a plan together with your teammates on how you should handle rimmed pucks or dump-in situations to help your team make zone exits easier) 

battle hard to stop every shot; even those you know you don't have a chance to stop.  Your team-mates will appreciate your effort when you challenge them & it will show your commitment to improving.  And secondly, your “battle mentality” will translate into your game play and help you make that "game saving" stop from time to time

handle pucks every practice; make it a point to get out and stop, set or play any rims or pucks that come near the net to get a feel of how you want to react in different situations.  Better to make a mistake there, than in a game.

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going"





Posted by on in Alexander

It happens to everyone at one time or another in their goaltending career - we get benched.

It happens at all levels of play; it happens to the pros.  In the case of the pros, it can sometimes have long lasting career effect. At most other levels, though, it is just a temporary situation.

Whatever. It is not pleasant.  Perhaps you aren't even having a bad game. Or, maybe you are.  Fighting the puck or playing in an uncharacteristic manner.  Maybe the coach just wants to "shake things up". Hopefully that is the reason. But even if it is, it's a shock. It's embarrassing! Fans & parents are looking on, not to mention your teammates

And, then the thoughts start going through our mind: why? It was just one goal & it went off my defenseman's stick (of course coach didn't notice that); the whole team is playing badly, why signal me out? I could have played through that rough spot, I just needed a few more minutes to get my game together. Am I going to get my next regular start? What are my teammates thinking?

And then the frustration and even anger can kick in.  It's difficult to keep your mind in the game, and perhaps you really don't feel like cheering on your team or for that matter, your playing partner.

Hopefully, this is nothing to do with you personally, but, whatever the reason, you really can't change it.  Once done it is done.  You can either move on & stay prepared (in case you need to go back in the net) or sit there with your negative thoughts & emotions which really doesn't do anyone, including you, any good.

The best approach, & only productive one, is to take it as a learning experience: an opportunity to study players or the opposition goaltender.  And, maybe there, see some things you could incorporate into or add to your game.  Or, is there something in your game you need to improve so this doesn't happen again.  

One thing for sure, being benched will test your mental toughness.  But, with the right ATTITUDE, you'll come away a stronger more resilient goaltender who can deal more readily with the pressures of the game & the ups and downs of goaltending in a positive manner.

Perhaps one piece of advice to leave you with is to be prepared to be benched.  It will happen! And, sometimes it just comes right out of left field without any warning.  So, think about it before it does.  Try to set in your mind what you will do; what your reaction will be and how you can turn it into a positive.

No matter what the circumstances, be supportive of your teammates.  Sooner or later, you will need their support.


Posted by on in Alexander

 What is your “Net Presence”

First impressions are important.  And your appearance, your reactions & body language are an important part of projecting who & what you are as a goaltender. 

Make no mistake, aside from the skill level, recruiters, scouts & coaches take a keen interest in how you "present" yourself and your "net presence" affects their perception of you.

Do you play super aggressive, over-play shots & continuously scramble and chase the play? This gives the impression that you may be in a “little over you head” and really do not possess the skill to play at this level.  Or, that you lack a sound technical base & that your whole game is based on being reactionary. (tough to have consistent success playing this way) 

Are you a goaltender who never leaves the blue paint of the crease not even daring to go out and stop rimmed pucks?  So, are you lacking confidence, skating skills or are you a very passive personality?  Again, this posture sends a definite message to those watching. 

Do you, at times, appear disengaged or disinterested during the game. (Wow!  What is the message here?)  Perhaps that is your way of dealing with pressure.  But observers will wonder, is that his/her “normal"?

So, let’s look at a couple of points.

1.Remain calm & focused after mistakes or goals scored
2. Keep shoulders back & head up to appear confident, ready, and capable
3. Show emotion after a goal, if you want, but be under control

If you are serious about this, you might do well to view a self video and see how you stack up against other goaltenders in that regard.  Or, elicit the help of an unbiased, reputable coach to give you an honest opinion of just how you project yourself in the net.

Perception is reality - to the observer.  Remember, no matter where or when you are playing, there most likely is someone (coach, scout, recruiter, or friend of) watching.   

Never underestimate the importance of your "NET PRESENCE".


Posted by on in Alexander

What are some of the “extras” you can do at the rink & beyond that will translated into improving your play on the ice and give you a better chance at winning?

Probably, if you asked 10 people, you would get 10 different answers.  However, it comes down to some very basis rules of thumb that, although, require a lot of discipline, will pay instant rewards

- eat nutritious foods.  Food is fuel for your muscles; no fuel, no energy

- get the correct amount of daily rest.  Same as food; no rest, no energy
- never skip or “tank” a workout.  What you don’t do today will come back to bite you in the future

- prepare thoroughly pregame & pre practice.  Pre-game/practice routines are invaluable to not only instill confidence, but get you in the correct frame of mind to compete &/or learn

- diligently work on your skills to perfect your game.  In practice, focus on the mechanics & movements of the skill & don’t just go through the motions.  Practice is not a social

- never take a "night/day off" at practice or game.  Work harder in practice today than you did in your last game, work harder in your next game than you did in your last practice

- keep an open mind to advice & correction.  Not to do so, could deprive you learn of another “tool” to improve your game

- be a "student" of the game; always in "learning" mode.  The day we know everything about goaltending is the day we stop learning and when you stop learning, you stop improving

- watch hockey! There is no better way to understand the game & how it affects your game, than to watch it being played


Posted by on in Alexander

How can you give yourself the best chance at the game results you want? 

Playing a great game is not centered around a couple or one big or “impossible save” that stands out from everything else.
It is the sum of a series of smaller details you control that will put a positive spin on your game, even if your team doesn’t necessarily put up 2 points in the win column.

Sometimes you’ll do everything right (or almost everything) and still not win the game.

Here are some suggestions on how YOU can give yourself the best chance to get those 2 points. 

1. remember, you will never play a "perfect" game.  Set your sights on playing an "excellent" goalie ever played a perfect game.  (And, anyway, who needs the added pressure of being perfect)

2. game time is not the time to improve your skills, that is what practices are for.  Trust that your work in practice will give you the best opportunity for game success

3. it is okay to make mistakes.  Every game is full of them.  Park and forget them until the game is over

4. don’t worry & get distracted if your technique is not quite where you'd like it to be on that day.  Everyone has “off” days 

5. share the don't have to win the game all by yourself

6. focus on the goal(s) you have set for the game, not on the score

7. stay positive. Think about being successful

8. do whatever it takes to play well, even if it is "ugly" or not quite up to your usual standard. Sometimes you just must play "ugly" to win 

9. keep your thoughts simple. Don’t over-analyse.  You will only psyche yourself out

10. when on ice, focus on your performance as an athlete, not the score, mistakes or goals that go in

11. play for the team, but TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR PLAY

12. don't worry about what others may think about your performance, there will ALWAYS be critics

13. don't ever assume you know what others, or your coaches are thinking; 9 out of 10 times you will be wrong

14. take the game seriously, but have fun 

15. don’t blame others or beat yourself up if you lose. That is the EASY WAY OUT.  Figure out the areas of your game where you might have been better & GET AT IT!  Even if you won, there are always parts of your game you can improve on.


Posted by on in Alexander
Didn't make the team?

Make it a new beginning not an end with a 
NEW ATTITUDE & renewed motivation
Reflecting back on the tryout period prior to the season as we enter the first couple of weeks of hockey season, it is safe to say these were some very anxious moments for goalies (and parents too)
And, some of you didn't make the team you tried out for. Believe me, I've seen it happen numerous times including a couple of personal experiences & I must admit it wasn't the the most pleasant of times.

So, today, I thought I would pass on some advice which, I hope, will motivate you to begin the process of improving your chances next time.
I know the first question that comes to mind, when you get the bad news, is WHY?  
Truth is, sometimes it doesn't make a lot of sense, even when you get the answer. (if you get an answer)  Maybe it was just that the competition was tough (a lot of exceptionally good goalies in your age group) or you didn't perform up to the expectation of the coaches or your skills were lacking.  Or maybe, "politics" came into play.  Maybe it was your demeanor, how you presented yourself in the net.  Maybe the coach thought he would give a second year goaltender(s) the opportunity, or the coach just felt more comfortable (confident) with the other guy (or girl).

You can't hang on to the thought that the coach didn't like you, or they didn't see you at your best, or you should have been selected because you allowed fewer goals than the other goalie(s) .  

Whatever the reason, you must move on.
Understand, that, unless we do fail from time to time, we will never become the best we can be.  Most top end athletes (goaltenders) will tell you that they failed numerous times during their rise to the top, and these failures were the motivation that really drove them to become successful. (check out the Jordan Binnington story) They learned from the failing experience and were able to "move on", understand their deficiencies, and vowed to work diligently on those deficiencies to make the necessary corrections and improve.

And, so, failing is a necessary part to improving your game.
The question is, what are YOU going to do about it?
The first thing you need to do is take a hard, honest look at your game and identify the parts that need improvement   
Although you may attempt to do this yourself, I suggest you enlist someone whom you consider to be an unbiased, experienced coach to review your game with the use of video or observation.  Just remember, they will need to be brutally honest and, so, you may hear things you don't want to hear. However, if you REALLY want to improve, then the need for honesty.

During the initial review process, 3 or 4 areas for improvement may be identified.  Once, identified, develop a plan and commit it to writing.  This will provide direction and keep you on track, plus allow you to measure how you are progressing at a future point in time versus where you began.  You will likely have to do this several times during season, similar the approach used at the professional hockey level.

I suggest that you include your parents in the plan.  They can act in a supporting role where necessary. But remember, the puck is in your rink. It's 
YOUR plan and not the responsibility of Mom or Dad or a coach to lead you along.  They supply direction and support only.  YOU must provide the motivation, dedication & hard work.  
If you truly WANT (not wish, like to, would be nice) to be a top end, above average or elite goaltender then you need to put in the work, provide the self-motivation and DEVELOP THOSE GOOD, PERSONAL HABITS necessary.

There is absolutely no substitute. There is no "magic formula"  You must put in the time and the work.


Posted by on in Alexander

The most important factor when the puck is being carried behind the net is to maintain eye contact with the puck for the greatest amount of time that it is there.

Generally, goaltenders will stop watching the puck once it passes the post on the short side & begin to move in the direction the puck is being carried without bothering to maintain any type of eye contact with the puck until they arrive at the far post.

In other words, the goaltender is “guessing” that the puck carrier will continue moving the puck in a forward direction behind & around or beyond the net.  And this really is a “guess”.

Simply, because, this does not consider the other 3 options at the puck carrier’s disposal:

1. the puck carrier can stop at some point behind the net & with a quick set up, make a pass out to a supporting partner on either side (result = panic: since goaltender is committed to one side of the net & has no idea where the puck carrier or puck is, he/she ends up turning his/her head from side to side in an attempt to determine where the attack will come from)

2. the puck carrier can make a back pass to a partner who is below the goal line & trailing the play (result = trailing partner steps out over the goal line & jams the puck into the open net near side or plays “catch” with the passer forcing the goaltender to bounce from post to post & completely out of position for any type of scoring attempt)

3. as he reaches the mid-way point behind the net, the puck carrier can make a back pass to a supporting partner who is already above the goal line on the same side of the net where the puck carrier started (result = easy tap in goal 9 times out of 10)


So, here is one method to "effectively" track puck movement behind the net.


The first point I want to make here is “don’t panic”!  Remember, generally you will have more time than you realize especially, if you maintain excellent eye contact with the puck.

In this scenario we have chosen, the goaltender has positioned him/herself in an RVH (or for younger, less experienced goaltenders in an integrated post position on his/her skates) on the blocker side post as the puck is being moved below the goal line towards the net on the goaltender's blocker side. 

The goaltender should hold this position on the post until the point where the puck has moved past the blocker side post inside the frame of the net.  Now the goaltender moves his upper body away from the blocker side post but keeps his/her skate blade/pad in contact with that post and eye contact on the puck.  At this point the goaltender will be positioned on the goal line & approximately MID-NET.

When the goaltender can no longer see the puck over his blocker side shoulder he should continue to HOLD THAT SAME MID-NET POSITION, turn his head & attempt to pick up the puck location over his trapper side shoulder.

If the puck carrier has continued his path forward with the puck, the goaltender should just simply use his/her trailing leg (the one still in contact with the blocker side post) to push off & engage and seal the trapper side post and the ice.

On the other hand, if the goaltender cannot locate the puck position over the trapper side shoulder, he should KEEP HIS POSITION & turn his head back to the blocker side & attempt to locate the puck on that side.

If the puck carrier has stopped & set up behind the net, the goaltender can still maintain eye contact on the puck simply by leaning a little more to one side or the other and reacting to what he does. Although, not totally integrated to either post, the goaltender's location still leaves him/her in a very, very favorable position to gain angle on a pass out to either side of the net or deal with a wrap around attempt. 

If any type of back pass has been made the goaltender is still in a favorable position (MID-NET) to react to either of the back-pass situations described above because the goaltender is just a short push away from being able to quickly and effectively integrate with the post and seal the ice and/or gain angle against the scoring attempt.

We suggest this method is equally effective in situations where puck movement is similar but, where the goaltender chooses to remain on his/her skates and to not move into an RVH position.

(although we have used puck movement from blocker to trapper side of the net, the same method can be used for a puck being moved in the opposite direction)

Tagged in: Goalie Training

Posted by on in Alexander

To successfully prevent goals being scored from screened shots requires a collaborative effort between the goaltender & the team’s defensive core. 

Basically most, if not all, screened shots are scored because the initial shot is deflected or redirected by an opposing player or the goaltender’s own player.  Other instances of goals being scored from screens might be the goaltender looking to the wrong side in traffic or the goaltender guessing because he/she is unable to see the shot release point or, because of the screening effect (screen moving into or out of the puck trajectory path), to track the trajectory of the puck all the way. 

Additionally, we are seeing “layers” of screening on some shots.  For example, there could be a high defending forward, a secondary defender layer, and finally, an opposition player (or in reverse order) all in the goaltender’s sight line to the puck release. 

In today’s game, the emphasis for the defending team appears to be front blocking where the defender(s) (one or more) position ahead of the opposition player attempting to block the shot before it reaches the opposition player (acting as a front net screen) and, subsequently, the goaltender.  All is good in respect to this set up, if the shot is, indeed, blocked.  Unfortunately, depending on the commitment of the defender to block the shot or the blocking instincts of the defender, quite often, the puck will get through. 

If, what I have described above, is the system defense employed by a team in a screening situation, I suggest the following: 

a. shot blocking ALWAYS attempts to force the opposition to shoot to the short side (opposition player at the blue line on the goaltender’s blocker side of the ice, defender positions to take away the far side shooting lane.  Opposition player at the blue line on the goaltender’s trapper side of the ice, defender positions to take away the far side shooting lane) 

b.  when there are two defensive layers blocking, the one nearest the shooter attempts an outright block and the secondary layer positions in the far shooting lane.  Understand, that it is as important to force the shot to the short side as it is to block a shot.  Forcing the shot to the short side, which would normally be away from heavy traffic and the potential for deflection or re-directs also allows the goaltender to deal with only one screen (opposition player) making for easier puck tracking to the net and improving the potential to control rebounds to the short side or directly back out in the direction of the shooter and away from the low slot, high scoring location 

c. the defensive player in a blocking position nearest the net must understand that if the shot does go through to the net, they MUST immediately attempt to gain a position where they are able to retrieve any rebound or prevent the front net opposition player from retrieving a rebound

Here is a guide for the goaltender in a screening situation: 

a.  maintain a relaxed, upright stance following the puck until the shot release is imminent then move into a shot ready position  

b.  be aggressive in maintaining your position at the top of the crease.  Do not allow the opposition to back you into the net.  Use your trapper hand to keep opposition at a distance that allows you to move freely in and around the crease to make the save 

c.  default to a short side view to find the release point of the shot and track its trajectory 

d.  if there is front net screen movement, you may have to adjust your sight line by moving your upper body from side to side or even up & down prior to the shot release.  Continue to maintain your edges and, more importantly, your angle and position in the crease while doing so.  I cannot overemphasis how critical it is to see the puck release to be able to determine the path of the puck to the net.  Even if eye contact with the puck is lost in flight, those first few fractions of a second when the puck leaves the stick should allow the goaltender to “connect the dots” to determine the general location where the puck will arrive at the net, unless deflected or re-directed 

e.  if the shot is a clear-sighted situation, and the screen is not a factor, the goaltender need use the appropriate save selection to stop the puck.  However, if there is potential for a re-direct or deflection the goaltender should default to a butterfly block described below 

e.  where the view of the puck release & trajectory is completely unavailable, the default action will be to move into a butterfly block.  This is strictly a blocking position with elbows tight, hands down (no “active hands” positioning) and slightly ahead of the body and, of course a tight butterfly with a slight bend at the hips and head forward for good balance & reaction/re-positioning/recovery 

f.  on the same note, where the puck release view is available, but the trajectory vision is impeded along the puck’s path to the net, the goaltender should use the “connect the dots” method.  This should allow the goaltender a rough idea whether the path of the puck will be to the right, left, high, low or directly into his/her present angle.  If to the right or left, the goaltender can use a center shift to bring as much of his/her body to fill that portion of the net into the anticipated path of the shot


Posted by on in Alexander
  1. I will work hard to develop my skating, & technical skills so I am the best goaltender I can be
  2. I will give my best in every game and never leave any game wishing I had worked harder
  3. I will build my mental toughness so that negative events in a game will not affect my performance
  4. I will improve my practice habits and, so, my play in games will reflect how I practice and I will develop my best game habits in practice
  5. I will accept responsibility for my play - good or bad
  6. I will not lay blame with my team mates for goals that are scored even if they made the mistake
  7. I will be a student of the game and always look to improve so that my play will be a positive influence in all my games
  8. I will be disciplined in both my on & off ice habits, and maintain emotional control at all times during games
  9. I will practice good pre-game preparation so when I step on the ice, I am always ready to compete
  10. I will compete for every puck and never give up on a shot, no matter how impossible it might seem to stop it



Posted by on in Alexander

You can absolutely "kill it" in practices, but if you aren't able to perform under pressure you will not become a top end goaltender.  To quote Allistair McCaw, professional trainer & author


In my experience, when you have two athletes (goaltenders) of equal skill the one most likely to come out on top is the one who can handle the stress and pressure of competition, even when fatigued. 
The athlete able to cope with stress & pressure will always be looking to solutions, not excuses.  They will be doing all the good things we explained in our last e-mail and posted to our FB Group

If you watch them closely in practice, these are the ones who consistently challenge themselves to become better.  Even when the drill is mundane or "easy" they look for ways to make it challenging.  They look for more ways to make it more difficult....for themselves.

Hopefully they have a coach who understands the saying "you play like you practice" so he makes sure the goaltender is engaged and challenged in every drill.  But, if not, they know what they have to do.  They understand that the best way to get better and learn about yourself, your capabilities & shortcomings is to "step into the fire".

You will compete as you train!  If you really want to perform well under pressure you need to take an honest look at how you train.  Don't give in to excuses & looking for the easy way out. 

I recall an incident working with a couple of Junior goaltenders where I devised a drill (purposely) where the goaltender's chance of success was marginally low.  Mid-way through the drill I had one of the goaltenders come up to me and suggest we switch drills......because he thought is was too hard.  Good luck with that one.

Here is a quote from a prominent QMJHL goaltender, “You definitely have to practice like you play. I think the more you practice competitiveness, and making athletic saves, the more your body will get used to it”, said the veteran netminder. “When it comes time to applying that in a game, you are ready to make that type of save. You always have to battle for those extra saves and extra pucks, because you never know if it’s going to be a difference maker in a game.”

Can you handle the pressure and be a "difference maker"?


Posted by on in Alexander

Over the past month I’ve been taking in a lot of hockey games, mostly watching goaltenders in the 13 – 15 age group (10 – 12’s next).

With few exceptions, the majority goaltenders appear similar. They all look the part and, generally, they all have reasonable technical skills. Some are a step above others, others struggle a little at the level and a very large group are possess average skills – they are no more above average than below average.

If I am looking beyond the obvious, however, it becomes apparent that there is much more of a separation than the 3 I have described above.  Because, once the game starts, some of those who looked the part, no longer stand out.

So, if I am observing or reporting on a goaltender, here are some of the important elements I want to evaluate beyond the general technical skills:

1.      Does he/she compete to stop every shot?  Is she/he willing to do anything to make the save?

2.      Does he/she have excellent footwork controlling his/her inside edges both on her/his feet and in a down position & move around the crease smoothly and easily?

3.      Does she/he position (gap/angle) properly in all game situations

4.      Do I see his/her eyes track pucks/shots right into his/her trapper or body or to her/his pad, stick or blocker and then away from the body?

5.      Is she/he mentally tough & focused? Making a timely save when the pressure is on or shaking off mistakes and bad bounces

6.      Can he/she process the game?  Does they appear to understand how plays generally develop in the defensive zone and are they able to understand the potential options.

7.      Is she/he athletic?  I don’t mean diving & flopping all over the crease.  I mean CONTROLLED athletic movement

Certainly, this list is not all encompassing and there are more parts to the making of a top end goaltender.  However, many of these elements were lacking in a good portion of goaltenders I observed.  All are skills or intangibles which do not require a coach, only motivation & effort.

But make no mistake, their absence will/could become the deciding factor when you are being scouted or recruited.


Posted by on in Alexander

Success!  Everyone has their own definition.  Most of what I hear and see is that success is equated with winning.  I don't necessarily agree with this, but, to each his own opinion.

So, what is really necessary to be a success (successful)?  Ask 100 people and you might get 100 different answers.  So, it's really an individual thing.

This leads me to the question: "what is REALLY necessary for success?"
Again, the answers would be similar to the question in the second paragraph........... different answers from different people.

So, let's talk about that a bit by exploring what happens when we are NOT successful.

From personal experience what I see, is that, when we are not successful (in our own estimation) we get caught up with irrelevant things which have no real bearing on results or success.  "I need a better pad" "a different stick or brand of gear"  "Maybe I should have a protein shake before the game" "perhaps I need to change my off-ice workout" 

And so, we fret & anguish over minor details which make up such a small part of the picture and neglect the important parts which bring the most positive results. Why do we do this?


It is easier than admitting that you really don't do the important things that make up the 90% difference to be successful such as:

- eating nutritious foods
- getting the correct amount of daily rest
- never skipping a workout
- preparing thoroughly pregame & pre practice
- diligently working on your skills to perfect your game
- never taking a "night/day off" at practice
- keeping an open mind to advice & correction
- being a "student" of the game always in "learning" mode

Sure, new shiny pads or stick will look sharp, but, are they really going to make the difference? Not unless you have already honed your technical skills and mastered the fundamentals of goaltending.

And, for that, you must PUT IN THE WORK!

So, what are you waiting for?  Make a decision, stick to it and START TODAY.


Posted by on in Alexander

Successful Tryouts

Within the next couple of days or maybe, even already, you will be heading off to one of the most stressful times of the hockey season. ..........try-outs.  But, it need not be, (except for the usual "butterflies") if you invest some time developing your own personal strategy.

First, you need to prepare for each ice session in the same fashion you would for any game.  Go through the same pre-game prep routine you always did during season.  As humans we all like things we are familiar with, so, by following the same pre-game routine & structure you always do, you will automatically feel more comfortable, at ease, & relaxed.

Secondly, in the heat of try-outs things are apt to go wrong (a puck hits your glove & trickles in; a puck goes in off a defenseman's skate; you lose your angle & goal is scored) What you need do is NOT dwell on these, especially your mistakes.  If you do, it will only magnify the problem and hurt your confidence.  The more you dwell on an error or mistake, the more you will play trying to avoid making more mistakes.

You will play your best, if you continue to play through those with the understanding that mistakes do happen.  It is human and all part of the game. Focus on the positives of your performance and don't be afraid to take risks.

Here are a few other thoughts for you to consider:


- show you are motivated to make the team through hard work (give you best effort every game & practice)

- be enthusiastic & upbeat...a tryout is no place for negative talk (either self-talk or otherwise)

- don't be intimidated by others.  Make sure you get your share of shots, but don’t try to overdo it.
  You need to warm up as much as the next guy

- project a confident image...head up, shoulders square

- battle to stop every puck & never give up on a shot, “ANYTIME”; even in warmup

- watch the body language...throwing your hands up on a goal, snapping your stick against the post, shrugging your shoulders or glaring at your defensemen DOES NOT earn you "brownie" points with the coaches

- DO NOT shoot pucks or go into some elaborate skating drill while waiting for your turn to receive shots.  Simply, grab a knee and wait or move into a butterfly position & work on adjusting your upper body posture or hand/stick positioning until your turn comes up - relax

- listen more than you talk, especially in the dressing room

- o
n the ice, be a loud communicator of traffic and situations for your D and supporter of your team mates

- Be intense but under control
- DO NOT attempt to change your game from how you did things all season just because you're in a try-out
- the number of goals you give up is not as important as WHY THE PUCK WENT IN


Posted by on in Alexander
Oddities of 2018 NHL Playoffs

This year's playoffs have been one for the ages.  With the conclusion of the semi-finals last night we've seen some real oddities.  Both losing goaltenders are Vezina trophy finalists.  Both were younger goaltenders (Andrei Vasilevskiy (limited playoff experience), Tampa & Connor Hellebuyck, (no playoff experience) Winnipeg.  But, both highly touted to take their respective teams through. And, both losing teams in the semi-finals (Winnipeg & Tampa) were likely picked by most to move on (and who would have predicted Las Vegas & Washington to be in the Stanley Cup finals). I am not going to comment here on the play of either goaltender or whether they were a factor in their team losing.

But, the lesson here is that things don't always work out as predicted or planned and that we, as goaltenders, should never lose sight of this.  Hockey is at best, unpredictable.  And, we need to be able to deal with it.  Many of the articles I have written throughout the past season have covered the uncertainty of the position and how we should approach it. Hopefully, you've all been able to gain some insights from those articles that you can use in your goaltending travels.

As an added point to the oddities of the game, after having no shutouts in the regular season and starting the playoffs as a BACKUP, Braden Holtby recorded back-to-back shutouts in do-or-die games to propel the Capitals into the Stanley Cup Final.  It shows we can never tell what the future will bring.  So just hold on to your dreams, work diligently & with motivation and never give up.