Looking back through my posts, I can’t believe I haven’t written about puckhandling at some point already. It’s one part of goaltending that never gets adequate attention by goalie coaches. (Props to Eli Wilson who had the foresight to dedicate an entire camp to goalie puckhandling. Really awesome stuff.)
If I tried to pack everything I want to say about this into one post, it would turn into a novel, so I’m going to break it up into 3 parts. The goal of Part 1 is just to convince you that it’s a skill worth working on. Parts 2 and 3 will deal with the keys to executing it well and how to incorporate it into practices with small tweaks to drills you’re probably already doing.
I had the opportunity to talk to a couple NHL goalie coaches this summer and they have stats guys estimate how many shots DO NOT occur because the goalie was able to get out and help their team beat a layer of forechecking and get the puck out of the zone. It’s a higher number than I thought.
The way the game is now, if you’re looking to advance in the game, puckhandling is no longer a “nice to have”, it’s a “must have.”
I get it. I do minor hockey practices all the time. I know we get 15 minutes if we’re lucky, and sometimes we have the crease and maybe 3 feet outside of it to work in, with the skaters using the rest of the ice, however, it’s critical that we take find times to work puckhandling into our practices.
That’s really all our job as goalies is when it comes to puckhandling; gain possession of the puck, get it to a player, and get back to the net. It seems simple enough, but any goalie who’s played for any length of time has no doubt had some adventures outside the crease and watched their coach have a coronary event on the bench.
Hockey is a game of mistakes. Stuff like this is bound to happen every once in a while, but if you let the fear of making a mistake keep you from ever getting out there and getting involved, you’re handcuffing yourself and making life harder for your team. Good coaches know this, and won’t over react to the occasional mishandle like this one.
Stay tuned for posts 2 and 3 later this week!