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Tips for your best tryout

Tips for your best Tryout 


  2. Show you are motivated to make the team through hard work (give you best effort every game & practice)

  3. Battle to stop every puck & never give up on a shot, “ANYTIME”

  4. Don't be intimidated by others.  Make sure you get your share of shots.  You need to warm up as much as the next guy/girl. But don’t be a “net hog”

  5. Head up, shoulders square.  Project a confident image...even if you aren’t

  6. 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

  7. DO NOT shoot pucks at the boards or go into some elaborate skating drill while waiting for your turn to receive shots.  Simply grab a knee and wait or do a little stretching & WATCH THE SHOOTERS & the other goaltenders in net

  8. RELAX

  9. Listen more than you talk, especially in the dressing room

  10. On the ice, be a loud communicator of traffic and situations for your D and supporter of your team mates

  11. On the bench be “a team player”

  12. Be intense but under control

  13. DO NOT attempt to change your game from how you did things all season just because you're in a try-out

  14. The number of goals you give up is not as important as WHY THE PUCK WENT IN

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








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Don't let size limit your options


Normally this is not a factor at a young age, but, unfortunately, as you move up the hockey chain, some coaches believe it is a factor. I have seen it creep into decisions at the U13 & U15 level and most certainly it becomes a major 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 factored in.
On any given night, there are only 64 goaltenders on NHL team game rosters 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 the US.

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.  If you are really motivated, you can likely achieve proficiency in a short period of time with the help of an experienced goaltending 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 (a 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 the locations in the defensive zone from which 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 when 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 (an angle first mentality always. Plus proper depth whenever possible.  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  




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The "Separator" - Details

The difference between something "good" and something "great" is attention to detail. 
Charles M. Swindoll

Given 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 successfully 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 THOSE


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Look Beyond the Obvious


(Before I begin, I want to emphasize that none of what I describe below is possible without the use of video) 

There is a saying, “Things are not always what they seem.”  And, sometimes, this is exactly true. But most times it isn’t. Because what we see in a game; a goal scored, a bad play read or a poorly executed save selection is a “result”. And, if we really want to understand THE WHY, we should dig a little deeper or else we just might head off in the wrong direction attempting to make a correction to one thing where the answer might lie elsewhere.  
Here is one example from a game situation. 
Odd man rush 2 on 1 defender.  Both offensive players in their respective wall lanes just outside the dots. Puck carrier makes a pass to his partner when the partner reaches a point in line with the face off dot on his side. Defender sprawls to intercept the pass but the pass is completed. The weak side player receives the pass & releases a wrist shot on net. The goaltender t-pushes over to gain position on the shooter & moves to a BF on the shot release. But the shot goes off the goaltender’s blocker & into the net. 

Good goal? Bad goal? Stoppable? Not stoppable? 

Let us work backwards & look at a few things (or combination of things) that could have happened in this scenario to cause the goal. 

  • Did the goaltender arrive “on time” & feet set, squared to the shot & positioned at a reasonable depth, on angle & in a “shot ready” position (similar details if a lateral slide is chosen) when the shot was released?  

  • If that wasn’t the issue, then perhaps it was a poor release read or maybe just a good shot. 

  • If the goaltender didn’t arrive “on time” was it because the goaltender’s direction across the crease wasn’t an “angle first” path which would allow the goaltender to arrive at angle quicker? (Was the goaltender late by attempting to gain angle and depth in the one movement?) 

What about the goaltender’s actions prior to the pass?

  • Was the goaltender’s depth overaggressive based on the situation making it impossible to cover the required distance in time to challenge the shot? 

  • Was the goaltender’s feet set as the puck carrier approached preventing backward flow & so natural momentum couldn’t be used to pivot effectively into a strong lateral push or slide to the new puck location? 

  • Or, as the puck carrier approached, was the goaltender already in a wide, “shot ready” stance thereby limiting the ability to produce a powerful push off & generate speed across the crease? 

I am sure there are a couple of other teaching points I missed, but the point is, when we dive little deeper & BEYOND THE OBVIOUS, things might become much clearer & not be as they appear at first.

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All Shots on Goal ARE NOT Equal



In our sport of hockey, it is common to lump shots on goal into one “basket”.  Of course, this is makes it easier to compare apples to apples (or goalie to goalie) without having to dig too deeply into any details. And, if you aren’t prepared to dig deeper, then this becomes your only means to determining a goaltender’s save efficiency.  After all, there was a shot, and the goaltender prevented it from entering the net.  Simple, right? But really, these stats are just numbers and have relatively little significance to what happened.  For example, I saw this article in our local newspaper a short time ago that a particular goaltender has a .917 save percentage and 2.62 goals-against average.  Most everyone will look at these numbers & will either agree or disagree that the numbers are good or as good as or worse than so & so goaltender.


But, as I said right off the top, not all shots are equal.  So, let’s take a closer look at shots on net.  Recorded shots (which are not terribly accurate at any level) can be from any location on the ice.  For example, it might be a clearing attempt from the opposite end of the ice, or a dump in from the neutral zone. Or it could come from any point in the defending zone (and, sometimes, even from below goal line).

And this is where things get a little tricky. Because, for a true evaluation of a goaltender’s performance every shot should carry some “weight” or quality depending on the circumstances surround the shot. For example. Does a clear-sighted shot from the perimeter (outside the scoring box) have the same degree of difficulty for the goaltender as a shot from the low slot? Is a shot from a net drive equal to a wraparound attempt?  Where does a slot line possession carry inside the scoring box stack up against a breakaway? How about a one timer from inside the scoring box where the pass crosses the slot line? How about a 2 on 1 and the puck carrier shoots? How about a 2 on 1 where the puck carrier passes & his partner shoots?  And the shot from the point with a static screen, moving screen or layered screen? Etc. Etc. By the way, we could throw in 5 on 5 shots versus penalty kill situations, but let’s not complicate things further.


It is not that easy then to evaluate a goaltender’s true performance just simply based on a save percentage (shots minus goals divided by shots)


If you are a hockey fan, this information is probably more than adequate.  But if you are a coach or recruiter or scout, you need to dive a little more deeply into the quality of shots on net to really understand just how efficient a goaltender really is. Otherwise, you might be shortchanging one goaltender over another.  


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