A Look Inside: 1 on 1 with a Junior Goalie

Hey Guys,

I have a special treat for today. I’ve gotten permission from a very talented goalie that I have the pleasure of working with to share the video of one of our private sessions together on a mini rink.

I use a GoPro on the glass to get the whole picture, and I also bring an iPad onto the ice in order to give immediate feedback on certain situations. The GoPro makes clips of about 20 minutes long, so I’ll explain what’s going on in each clip.

We start with a warm-up I like to use. The focus is on reinforcing technique, and just getting comfortable moving, so we go puck to puck with the main movements a goalie would use.

The next drill uses 7 pucks to represent 7 standard spots a goalie would have to push to and get positioned. Each puck has a number and as I call it out, the goalie pushes to the specified puck. There is a very specific position I expect the goalie to be in for each number, so the focus is on speed and precision with each push. I still consider this to be part of the warm-up as the goalie can use this drill to get familiarised with their angles in the crease.

Now we’re going to get into some shots. With Dylan, one of our focuses has been to ensure we’re always releasing into shots, especially as a goaltender on the smaller side. One of my favourite things about Dylan is his stance. He’s constantly loaded and balanced, which means he can move in any direction very quickly. He’s an exceptionally athletic goaltender and this is a big reason why. This drill is as simple as it looks. I’m taking shots aimed at the holes under his arms and his goal is to release the proper skate blade to butterfly into the shot and get hit in the chest.

This drill continues into the second video.

We then progressed into a simulated odd-man rush. This is a great example of a drill that was a result of a discussion with the goalie about the best way to play a certain situation he was presented with recently. We often take advantage of sessions like this to go over different situations to come up with a game plan. I think it’s important to know what we’d like to do ideally in every situation. This is the time to go through some trial and error and see what will work best.

Our next area of focus was transitioning into and out of the RVH. I wanted to make sure we covered a variety of depths to determine the best way to manage each one. On each side we started with giving the goalie time to reach full depth, simulating a pass to a position high in the zone from below the goal line. Then we moved deeper, simulating a pass to the low slot, but still challenging the goalie to keep their feet. Lastly we moved to just above the crease and simulated a one timer from a tight position.

At this point we’re ramping up the tempo to include some game like drills. We start with a 2 puck scramble drill that forces a quick reaction and change of direction. The goalie has to read the direction of the shooter, and quickly shift focus to the 2nd puck and race to get into the best position possible for the 2nd shot.

During this drill, we decided to have some fun to end the hour and work on some of the desperation saves that we don’t often get to work on.

Overall we took the time to address some of the basic skills we always look to sharpen, as well as some specific concerns that are unique to this goalie and his game. The best part about working with goalies of this calibre is that they take ownership of their own development. As goalie coaches, our job is to collaborate with the goalie to find an approach that achieves results and that the goalie is comfortable with. If the goalie doesn’t believe in the approach, they likely won’t do it instinctively in a game. Find a coach who is your partner in finding the right approach to the game, so you can work together to make this your best season yet!

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Grow Your Game

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Hey Guys,

I hope everyone is having an awesome summer so far. If you’re in school, summer vacation is just around the corner. Tryouts have wrapped up, and by now you should have a pretty good idea of where you’ll be playing next season. For most of this month, hockey can be the farthest thing from your mind, which is great! I’m a firm believer in taking some time away from the ice, and away from the game, to let your body and your mind reset.

For myself, I usually take the month of June to reset too, but this year I had a great opportunity to develop as a coach, so I can come back to you guys and take your development to the next level as well!

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Myself and former Dallas Stars goalie coach and current Hockey Canada advisor Mike Valley.

I had an amazing chance to learn from some of the top minds in the game at the NetWork Goaltending Symposium. For 3 days at the University of Wisconsin I got to watch presentations from coaches like Pasco Volana (Hockey Canada), Mike Valley (Most recently of the Dallas Stars), Rob Tallas (Florida Panthers), Thomas Magnusson (Director of Goaltending, Swedish Ice Hockey Federation), and many more incredible goalie coaches.

In addition to hearing from those speakers, we also participated in group discussions where I was fortunate to collaborate with goalie coaches from around the world to discuss coaching and development strategies.

Coming back from that, I’m so excited to share what I’ve learned.

From July 10th to 13th I’ll be running a goalie clinic at Tecumseh Arena, where I’ll be able to take all this new knowledge onto the ice.

This Will Be Different Than Any Clinic You Attend This Summer

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Me with Director of Goalie Development for the Swedish Ice Hockey Association Thomas Magnusson.

I’m limiting each group to 8 goalies. Everyone will get tons of attention and coaching.

Best of all, we’re going to be implementing the same concepts and learning strategies that these world class goalie coaches are using to help the best goalies in the world.

These 4 days will lay a new foundation of skill for you to build on the rest of the summer. We’ll teach you to look at the game and the position differently. We’ll use your creativity to find the best solutions for your game.

Ultimately, we’re going to help you to make more saves, and make them easier. That’s really what it’s all about.

I can’t wait to get started.

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Tryouts: Work Smarter

Hey Guys,

It’s starting to get a bit warmer outside, and for most minor hockey teams, the season is winding down. Hopefully you all created some great memories and had lots of fun this season. I know some of my goalies had greats seasons, and I’m very proud of all their hard work this year. It won’t be long now before the focus will shift to tryouts. It’s amazing how quickly it seems to come once the season finishes. Invariably, every  year I get the same question: “what are coaches looking for when I try out?” The answer is, hopefully several things. Having been on both sides of this question, let me break down how I look at goalies during tryouts.

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  1. Skating – I cannot emphasise enough how important skating is to a goalie’s game. I look for the obvious things like balance and speed, but I also look for the subtle things like precision. Does the goalie hit their spot every time, square and with good depth, in their stance? Are they leading with their head, eyes, and stick blade as they move? Can they stay in a position to react throughout their movements, or does it take them some time to get set? If you focus on developing your skating, your whole game will improve.
  2. Puck Control – If you’re trying out to play on a rep level team, I assume you’re already skilled enough to stop the puck. Most average goalies can get some body part in the way of a shot. What sets elite level goaltenders apart is that they control the game by controlling where the puck goes after they save it. Goalies who are putting rebounds out into scoring areas give coaches fits. Work on deflecting low shots into corners and holding onto anything in the top 2/3 of the net.
  3. Stop the Puck – At the end of the day, just like any other job, results matter. You can be the best looking goalie on the ice, but if you can’t keep the puck out of the net, it’s going to be tough to make a case to keep you. Just focus on being solid. Make the saves you’re supposed to make, and don’t worry about being flashy. Nothing is more frustrating than a goalie who makes the big windmill glove save, only to let in the next easy shot along the ice.

Those are the biggest elements I look for when evaluating goalies. Obviously there are other skills such as puckhandling that are certainly nice to have, but it’s the goalies who are great at the basics who really excel.

With that in mind, make use of all the ice time you have leading up to tryouts to get better at the foundational skills of the game. Be hard on yourself in drills. Don’t let any of the details slide.

When the tryout comes around, be confident and trust your preparation. Only worry about what you can control, and trust that the coaches will see your attention to detail.

Good luck! See you at the rink.

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Schedule Page

Hey Guys,

In my last post I mentioned I would be publishing a schedule so you could check my availability and keep on top of any clinics or camps we’re doing. That page is now live and can be found here or at the top of the home page.

That’s all for today. I hope everyone had a good weekend. Let’s start the week off with a bang! Whether you planned to or not, get a good workout in today and set the tone for the week. Your body will thank you.

Talk soon,

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Update: The Last Few Months

Hey Guys,

I didn’t realize how long it had been since my last update! When I started this site, I made a commitment to myself that I would not post fluff content just for the sake of posting on a schedule. That being said, I should have given some more attention to this side of things.

Over the last few months a lot has changed for me, both personally and professionally. My wife and I moved into a new house in a new neighbourhood, which we are enjoying immensely. I’ve completed additional education on the subject of nutrition to allow me to help my clients to make positive changes in that aspect of their life as well. You can try to build a body that’s a “Ferarri” but if you don’t have the necessary fuel in the tank, you won’t be going anywhere. I’ve also revised the system and methodology I use to track and progress my athletes. Our athletes are taking huge strides in their games this season as a result of their hard work towards the end of the summer and into the year.

I’m happy to say that I’m involved in a number of minor hockey organizations around Windsor and Essex County once again this year. In the coming days I’ll be putting up a calendar of events on this site to keep you updated on where I am and what clinics will be available to everybody.

On that note, we’re currently halfway through our In-Season Development Clinic at PowerTech. I’m really excited about the success this group of goalies is having. We’ve got some beginners who are laying the best possible foundation to grow their game, and are becoming solid young goaltenders. We’ve also got some more advanced goalies who are sharpening their basic tools, and learning some more advanced skills in order to take their game to the next level and separate themselves from the competition.

I’ll be making a post to let everyone know before the next round of clinics gets started so that you can be in the next group of goalies to make this year your best season yet!

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Take Some Time Away

Hi Guys,

It feels like summer is flying by. Our first round of summer camps at Powertech just wrapped up last week, and the second set is set to start next week. For me personally, I’ve been coaching almost nonstop since the beginning of last season. You know that feeling when the days start to blend together and you’re not really sure where one week ends and the next begins?

I know some of you guys are in a similar situation. You played a long season; maybe you made it deep into the playoffs. Then once you finished you may have played spring hockey in a league or tournament team. After that, summer camps were about ready to begin. See where I’m going with this?

I got to the point where I knew if I didn’t take some time for myself, to get away from the rink and the gym, the quality of my work would suffer. I wouldn’t be able to maintain that same level of passion and focus.

So I took off. I certainly could have had a full coaching and training schedule if I had stayed, but it wouldn’t have been the best thing for me or for the people who entrust me with their health and wellness or their development. Now I know that when I get back, I’ll be recharged and ready to give my best again.

I would encourage you guys to think about your game this way as well. More is not always better. Even the best players in the world take some time at the end of their seasons to rest and recover from the grind of the year. It’s essential for your mental and physical wellbeing. You don’t have to take a vacation to the other side of the world, but ensure you have time away from the game. Hockey shouldn’t feel like a chore.

As for me, I’m enjoying my time down here in South Carolina, right on the coast. I’m enjoying waking up with the sun and having nothing on the agenda. It’s about 100 degrees outside but the breeze off the ocean feels great.

Back at it soon.

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How They Got Here

Hey everyone,

The NHL Playoffs are in full swing at this point! At the time I’m writing this post, the Eastern and Western Conference Finals have both been incredible series’.With this in mind, I wanted to take the opportunity to have a look at the four starting goaltenders left in these Playoffs, and have a look at the unique paths they took to get to where they are now. Here they are, in no particular order.

Brian Elliot- St. Louis Blues

NHL: FEB 16 Stars at Blues
16 FEB 2016: St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) as seen during the NHL game between the St. Louis Blues and the Dallas Stars at the Scottrade Center. (Photo by Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire)

Brian Elliot went undrafted in the OHL and instead played Junior A hockey in Ajax. After a solid season, Elliot was drafted 291st overall in 2003 by the Ottawa Senators. He was the 2nd last pick of the entire draft, taken in a round that no longer even exists. He chose to go to university, and served as the backup for his first two seasons before winning the starting position, and having two standout seasons for the University of Wisconsin. He was offered an AHL contract by the Binghamton Senators, and earned AHL All-Star honours. He eventually earned a shot with Ottawa, and made the most of his opportunity, earning a full time NHL job. He was traded to Colorado in 2011, where he struggled, and was not offered a contract. The following summer, he was signed by the St. Louis Blues. He hasn’t looked back, earning two NHL All-Star appearances and holding onto the starting position despite runs at the job from two solid goalies in Jaroslav Halak and Jake Allen.

Martin Jones – San Jose Sharks

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Jones also went undrafted in the NHL after two seasons as a backup goalie for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. He went to the Los Angeles Kings rookie camp as a free agent, and made the most of his opportunity, with the Kings signing Jones to a 3 year contract before sending him back to the Hitmen. Following his junior career, Jones spent most of his first 3 seasons in the AHL where he put up excellent numbers, finally earning a backup role before being traded to the Bruins and then, later that same day, to the Sharks. This season, he has led the Sharks to the Conference Finals, defeating his former team, the Kings, and a formidable Nashville Predators team along the way.

Ben Bishop- Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawks
Oct 5, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) tends net against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being drafted in the 3rd round by the St. Louis Blues and being considered a top prospect, Ben Bishop struggled to develop in the first several years of his career. He ultimately earned the backup job in 2012 but was traded later that year to the Ottawa Senators. He was not in Ottawa for long, being traded to Tampa Bay at the deadline of that season. Since coming to the Bolts, Bishop has solidified himself as a premier goalie, leading the Lightning to the Stanley Cup Finals last year.

Matt Murray – Pittsburgh Penguins

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Murray was taken in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. He quickly became one of the top goaltending prospects in the league, setting an AHL rookie record for shutouts (10) and a league record shutout streak of 304 minutes and 11 seconds. Since then he has excelled at the NHL level whenever he has had the opportunity. Starting the final 9 games of the season in place of an injured Marc-Andre Fleury, Murray has been a rock for the Penguins in the post season with a playoff GAA of 1.74 and a save percentage of .939. Fleury is now healthy, but the run Murray is on has given the Penguins no reason to make the switch in goal just yet.

The common theme amongst all of these goaltenders is that they’ve all gone through periods of adversity. Whether it was having periods of poor play, getting passed on by a team, or having someone with more experience ahead of them on the depth chart. The other thing that they have in common is perseverance. It would have been very easy to give up on their goals during these tough times, but instead of giving up, they chose to work harder. As a result, when the opportunity came to show what they could do, they were ready for it.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a roadblock is the end of the road. There will always be a way around it, or through it. Take adversity as a challenge and use it to inspire you to work harder than you ever have.

As you enjoy watching some awesome playoff hockey over the next few weeks, keep in mind that, just a few years ago, some of these goalies did not even have a team to play on. Now they’re each 8 wins away from winning the Stanley Cup.

What can you do TODAY that will put you one step closer to your goal? What bit of adversity can you draw inspiration from to bring out the best in yourself? The season is only a few short months away. Take that inspiration, and make the next season the best you’ve ever had!

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