Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Goalie Clinic of 2007 Huge Success

Last night (30th) we held our final Goalie Clinic of 2007 at Glen Cairn arena and it was a huge success. We had students from Detroit, Kitchener and all around the area attend, 30 in total. I was also happy to see 2 adults at the clinic, one a regular and one new member who now holds the distinction of being our oldest student at 61 years young - CONGRATULATIONS to Michael and Chris for having the guts to come out to the clinic and the desire to learn even as adults. Great to see!!

I wanted to give out a special thanks, as usual to our dedicated instructors, most of whom asked me if they could be there. Our people are a truly dedicated and caring bunch and as I have said before, this is what sets us apart from the competition is our philosophy, dedication, consistency and caring.

Kainoa came in from university in Toronto and was very excited to help us out, even though it was the day after having his wisdom teeth out - Dedication & caring!!

Dave and Tara had been away at a tournament all weekend, but made sure that they were back in time to help out. Dedication and caring!

Gerry (our summer Head Instructor) had been 'injured' most of the week, but called to ask if we needed him and he immediately agreed to come out. Dedication and caring.

Thanks to everyone else who came out there to help us, we had 8 instructors on the ice for 30 students and 6 stations and as always, worked on a rotating station setup, Gerry's balance and skating station was a particular favourite and my 'how not to get scored on like Team Canada did with 7 seconds left against the Swedes station' was very true to a game situation.

Thanks of course to all the parents who brought the students out and the students themselves for a fine effort. We hope to see everyone again at the February clinic or one of the remaining SSE clinics.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Congratualtions to Puckstoppers Goaltending Student

Long time Puckstoppers Goaltending Schools student Marc Nother, who is Playing London Midget AAA this year, got the call from the Jr. 'A' London Knights to fill in for Steve Mason this week. Mason is off at the World Junior Tournament. Marc will practice and be available to backup if needed while Mason is away.

Marc is a great talent, good kid and has super talent. During this past summer he was contacted by OHL teams, but was not drafted this year, which was a surprise to those who have seen him play, but not unusual for a goalie to be passed over their first year of eligibility.

What impressed me so much about Marc this summer was his attitude about the draft. When I asked him about it, his reply was something I would have expected from a 10 year pro player. He simply said "I didn't deserve it, I didn't work hard enough this past season". WOW, how many 16 year olds do you know who would have been that honest or even that self aware to admit it.

Now he gets a brief opportunity to be around players at that level, mid season and to make an impression for this summers draft. With that kind of attitude, I expect Marc to make the most of his opportunity.

Marc is also a Junior Instructor for our summer camps and clinics, when his schedule allows.

Best of luck with the Knights and on the rest of your Midget season, we know this summer will bring great things.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Luongo's Pads

Here is an interesting article I found. Note it says 'Big change in store for goalies gear' AGAIN??

Province hockey reporter Jason Botchford blogs about the Vancouver Canucks, the NHL and more.

Luongo a cheater? Pad Flap

NHL goalie cop Kay Whitmore said it's no big deal and the consensus around Vancouver (no surprise there) is nearly unanimous that Roberto Luongo's pad flaps give him no edge.
It's worth noting that the same people often work themselves into a frenzy when Giguere's chest protector lifts off the shoulders because he tucks it in

He's a cheater. Or is he? Hasn't he just adapted the equipment to suit his style?

It's also worth noting that the Canucks reduced the size of Luongo's pad flaps. There seems to be some debate about when that happened but Whitmore said it was after he talked to them.
It's unclear why the Canucks would reduce the size of the flaps if the NHL didn't believe there was a problem with them.

If there is any advantage at all, it comes when Luongo is making saves on his knees. It's at least conceivable the flaps could keep out a sliding puck.

Turco made a point to say Luongo makes all his saves on his knees. But Turco is a goalie who built, branded and marketed his own specially designed pads which allow the five hole to close easier.

It's at least interesting that he, like Luongo and Giguere, adapted gear to suit his style.

Turco knew he'd get a big reaction and stir the hornet's nest. What he might not have known is that the Stars officially complained to the NHL last season right before the start of Game 1.
For me, that's the part that takes this story from fun side note to front page. It's evident in his reaction Luongo was not pleased by the Stars gamesmanship last spring.

Kelly Hrudey, on Team 1040 today, suggested big changes are in store in goalie's equipment before next year.

The plot thickens..

Here is the Luongo story:
The cheeky, mock protest Dallas goalies Marty Turco and Mike Smith orchestrated at Thursday's morning skate wasn't the first time the Stars have insinuated Roberto Luongo uses equipment that crosses the line.

The last time was less theatrical, but clearly more serious, and an apparent attempt to throw Luongo off his game before the biggest night of his hockey career.

Following the warm-ups before the first game of last year's Stanley Cup playoffs, the Stars made a complaint to the NHL regarding Luongo's knee flaps, two pieces of equipment which jet out from his leg pads.

No one was laughing then.

"It was one of their concerns after the pre-game skate," said Kay Whitmore, who is part of the NHL's "goalie police" department, ensuring all the equipment conforms to standards. "I went in and inspected them.

"It's just the way Roberto chooses to wear it. If we thought he was getting an unfair advantage having that protective flap sticking out the side then we would definitely do something about it. That's what we do here. We're watching every night. It hasn't been something that's really worried us to be honest."

Whitmore said Stars' former general manager Doug Armstrong called him just before the start of Luongo's first-ever playoff game to make Luongo's equipment an issue.After the NHL talked to the Canucks, Luongo's knee flaps were scaled back, Whitmore said."In the playoffs, after I talked to the Canucks' equipment managers, they cut the pads down just to make sure it wasn't sticking out," Whitmore said. "They made it smaller and now it comes that way from the factory. I don't have a problem with them. "I've approved them and I think they're fine."

The Stars playoff complaint, which can be seen as post-season gamesmanship, came to light for the first time Thursday after Turco and Smith took the ice at the morning skate. The pair were wearing ridiculous homemade cardboard flaps which stuck out of their knees. A "1" — which is Luongo's number — was written on each flap.

Luongo said Thursday's antics were all in good fun but when the conversation turned to the playoffs he became terse."It's not an issue and I don't want to talk about it anymore," Luongo said.

Both Stars' goalies made a joke about it, but also indicated they didn't think the pad flap was entirely a laughing matter.

"We need pads that are realistic and what's safe for the game," Turco told reporters, tongue-not-in-cheek, after the morning skate. "The (homemade flaps) were part comical, part serious. "I was really serious because I don't like the idea of larger nets.

We're looking at a few ways so we don't have to have larger nets."Smith, clearly joking to reporters, said this of his mock flaps: "I just had these sent in from the league. I don't know much about them, but I just heard they help stop the puck. I'll try them out ... It was pretty good today. Actually, I made a couple saves with those. I just might leave them on there."

What's comical, according to Whitmore, is the idea the flaps could help Luongo make a save."To be honest, do you really think you could stop a puck with what sticks out there?" Whitmore said. "It's a piece of foam that's there to protect the outside of the knee. "If Marty was real serious about it, I'm sure he'll give me a call."

The piece of equipment is on RBK pads. There's a strap on the back of the knee that pulls it in. But Luongo's are not pulled in tight, allowing them to pop out the sides. "Some goalies like that tight, some like it loose," Whitmore said. "If it was flaring into the five hole and stopping pucks in there, then there'd be a different story and we might say 'Hey, cut it off.' "Maybe (Thursday's theatrics) were their way of saying we should get rid of them but I'm not going to take it seriously when they do something like that. If they call about it, I'll definitely sit down and hear what they have to say."

It's unclear how many goalies wear the RBK pads, but Whitmore said it's a "good percentage." Luongo isn't the only one to have the flap stick out of his pads. Cristobal Huet is one of several goalies whose knee flaps flip out like Luongo's.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Wishes to ALL

Christmas is upon us and it is time to stop, reflect and be with family and friends. Life is so hectic and our lives to full of ‘stuff’ that many of us forget to take the time to thank those around us who actually fulfill our lives and help to give us purpose.

So, as I sit down to write this, my Christmas message, I think of all those who I value as friends and acquaintances, both past, present and future, those who have brought value, excitement, unpredictability and purpose to my life.

There is an awful lot I have to be thankful for, as I am sure you do as well, and my hope is that, as you read this, you too will think of the things that you value and make your life a complete, fascinating. and wild journey that is invigorating and should be looked upon as something to cherish.

Remember that everything happens for a reason and it is how we deal with the challenges and trepidations of life that makes us who we are. I recently watched a movie called ‘The Secret’; I strongly recommend that you take the time to see this movie, as it explains something that I have believed all my life. If you believe you can, you will, if you think you can’t, you don’t have a chance. Believe and you can do anything!

20 years ago I set up a little company called Puckstoppers. In 2008 we celebrate our 20th anniversary as one of the top 5% Goaltending Schools in the world in terms of longevity. I sincerely thank all those who have been a part of this: instructors, students and parents. Another thing I have always known is that to succeed you must surround yourself with good people. I took this a step further and did it with GREAT people who are caring and dedicated. I don’t have employees, just great friends!

In 2007 I once again had the amazing experience of coaching a great group of kids who for the third year in a row accomplished far beyond even their own expectations because we helped them to believe in themselves. Again I did not do this alone. My awesome coaching staff all bought into the system.

City Champions, League Champions, Tournament Champions and 1 goal away from Provincial Champions…this was a special group that I will remember forever and I thank everyone involved for the opportunity to discover just how much I love to coach kids and see them develop into better players, but more importantly, better people with a greater sense of how to achieve.

Hockey in general has afforded me countless opportunities to meet some amazing people and achieve so much. Operating our own league (JFFHL), travelling, meeting celebrities, attending events, coaching goaltenders and teams, plus a whole lot more, Thanks to all the marvellous folks I have met along the way and those I have played with, against and for. I look forward to seeing you all on the ice again.

We were also reminded that life is fragile and should never be taken for granted as we lost some folks in 2007, who were much to young to leave us and we thank them for having touched our lives and wish their families all the best. We hope that they know they remain in our hearts. Their passing reminds us all to live life to its fullest, enjoying each day and not to leave for tomorrow what we can do today. Say what you wanted to say, do what you thought about doing, hug that person you wanted to hug, ask the question you wanted to ask, but do it now! There is no better time.

Of course my own family is always at the forefront of my mind. I have three awesome kids and a wife I love! I am so thankful for them and the joy they bring to my life. I work too much and spend too much time on those ‘things’ I mentioned earlier, but as I do this, it is all for my family and I see 2008 as a breakthrough year for us as I will achieve my goals. I will do this because I believe I will!

You can too!!!

Make 2008 your year to do what you want to do, achieve your goals, be with your family, live your values and embrace the challenges you face, stay positive even in the face of adversity. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it will make to your life.

Now go and make someone smile! Do or say something to someone in your life you know you should have done long ago.
Have a Great Christmas a Happy Holiday and a Super 2008

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Goalies - Dealing With a Misguided Coach

As goalies, we've all been there... and as parents, you have likely seen it many times - or worse, you are the problem - sorry, it had to be said. I'm speaking about the situation where the coach (or goalie coach or parent helper) instructs the goalie to do something he/she just knows is wrong. This is really hard on a young goalie and is one of the reasons we created our How to Coach Goalies, Coach and Parent Seminars

Out of respect they can't say "you're wrong" but they know that to be the case. Even though they may know that the instruction is improper, they have to do as asked by an adult coach, even knowing it's wrong. This becomes even more of a problem because repeatedly doing it incorrectly will build muscle memory and make correction that much more difficult.

I have worked with many young goalies at our Goaltending Schools and Goalie Training Centre, who have been taught improperly and before I could begin to build new skills and refine their technique, I had to deprogram these bad habits that were created through improper goalie coaching. This can be VERY frustrating for anyone, but it is particularly difficult for a youngster who has worked hard to learn a new skill, possibly knowing that it was wrong. This can result in a severe loss of confidence. At this point some kids shut down and can't learn any more because they are so frustrated with the old coach for teaching them wrong and for the new coach because he's just told them that they wasted their time learning an improper skill and they now have to start over. This is a very bad situation! I have seen kids quit hockey altogether or regress in their development and never recover their form.

So the question becomes; "how do I, as a kid, being taught by people I am supposed to respect, question the instruction and/or the techniques I am being asked to learn and/or work on, when I know they are incorrect". Good question!!

First off you should always be respectful, particularly of anyone older than you. This is a good rule to live your life by. The coach or helper will usually be a volunteer and they are trying their best to help out. If you are dealing with a professional (someone you are paying) you can be more inquisitive and demanding, but a true instructor should be explaining everything and asking for your input as you progress, so this shouldn't be an issue. If you are dealing with a parent or volunteer coach, you have to be very careful not to offend the person. Remember, you want them on your side, for the whole season. Here are some suggestions for dealing with this situation and become a good communicator, BEFORE you have much larger problem.
Please note that every one of these examples can be used in everyday life when dealing with school, work or social issues. Hockey teaches life skills and these are some very relevant situations that you will encounter regularly in the 'real world'.

BE TALKATIVE & COMMUNICATIVE FROM THE START - When you meet your new coach or on ice 'helper', be talkative, ask lots of questions about them, their family, playing career, anything, just make conversation and be friendly. Then when you don't agree or have questions it won't seem like you are suddenly 'attacking'. If you never say "boo" and then all of a sudden start to question the coach on something, it can easily put that person on the defensive.Discussion will seem much more natural if the coach is used to speaking to you. It'll seem like an everyday conversation, just about the topic you want to discuss. You'll also make more friends and be well liked in all other areas of your life, by being an active conversationalist!! It takes work, but it's worth it.

THIRD PARTY REFERRAL - HIS METHOD IS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE - If you have a specific question about something you are being asked to do and it is clearly wrong, refer to someone else when questioning an instruction. By doing this it doesn't seem like you are questioning the person, rather you are confused because you have been shown 2 ways to do something. Even if you weren't specifically shown a different method, you might have seen or read about one, so this shouldn't be considered lying.

As an example: Your new coach says you should always do a paddle down save on long shots (this is definitely wrong). You could reply with: "My old coach told me that he didn't want me to use that save on long shots because it took too long to get my paddle to the ice and it also wasn't necessary when I could make the play standing up and then pass the puck more easily. That made sense to me but I'm always willing to learn, so can you explain why that was wrong or why you want me to do it differently?"

In this example the student wouldn't have offended the coach in any way, the benefits of the correct technique were stated and then the new (incorrect) method was questioned, but the question was asked in a manner than allowed the person showing the save technique incorrectly, to save face by further explaining the technique or even stating that there are a variety of techniques and situations that dictate different save selections - in other words, this then gives the goalie the 'out' to do it the correct way and it gives the coach the 'out' to 'expand' on their original teaching and correct themselves without being too obvious...

GET EXPERT ASSISTANCE - Similar to the 'third party referral' method, this allows the goalie to question instructions, without directly conflicting with the coach. When you decide to use the 'expert assistance' method to get your point across, you'll have to wait until your next ice time after the coach has given you bad direction, but it is important to do it at that NEXT practice, you can't wait.

You'll also have to employ the 'smile & nod' method during the initial practice in which your coach offers the incorrect instruction. After you have been given 'bad coaching advice', you will need to seek an expert to back up and substantiate your position in questioning the instructions. This back-up can be in the form of articles, books, magazines, websites (like ours), hockey school notes or a variety of other areas. It is a good idea to approach the coach and start the conversation with some small talk so as not to appear to be attacking him/her.

Facing the net and looking way up, in the 'good old days' they weren't too well trained!

You can begin by restating what you understood the technique to be, so as to be sure you understood the coaches directions. If you have understood correctly and it is indeed wrong, then you can move to the next step.Once you are in a comfortable place (meaning; away from distractions), it's then time to bring out your findings and facts to back up your position.

You could also begin by stating that the goalie drill or technique you were asked to do at the last practice seemed "a little different from what you thought it should be" so you decided to do some research to help develop a better understanding of the manoeuvre. Most coaches will be impressed that you were working on your own outside the team practice time to improve yourself and your goaltending skills.

We (Puckstoppers) can help you in this situation, just send us an email stating the 'bad' goalie instructions or situation and we'll send you back a reply that will answer your questions and offer direction on the correct method. This can then be given (third party validation) to the coach , who can even be directed too our website and encouraged to contact us or learn from our free information.

OPEN DISCUSSION - There are times when you may have to be very direct and tell a coach that you have been taught differently and trying to change your style is causing you some difficulty.

Explain your concerns in a respectful manner, remembering to be as detailed in your reasoning as possible. You have to be prepared to back up your statements with facts and evidence to support your claims. If you approach the situation in an honest, respectful and matter of fact tone, without any adverse emotions, then you should be able to get through the discussion without difficulty. It's hard for someone to dispute proven facts and evidence.

You MUST keep the discussion about the goalie technique or goaltending drill, absolutely no mention of the coaches knowledge or ability can enter the conversation. As soon as happens you'll have a war on your hands that, as a player, you can't win. Don't put the other person in a position of having to defend themselves, keep the discussion only on the technique. A good coach will respect you for your consideration and maturity, regardless of your age, although the older the goalie, the more likely the coach will listen, but every coach should be available for a discussion with their players if requested in the correct fashion.

SMILE & NOD - OK, you don't ever want to argue or get into a conflict, so if things just aren't working out and your coach won't listen to reason, you can always go with the old standby 'smile and nod' routine. This means you know that what you are being asked to do is incorrect, but you simply 'smile and nod' and do your best to comply with the instructions you are given. Then you immediately forget what you just did and go back to the correct method. The younger the goalie the more difficult this is to accomplish. The biggest problem with doing what you know to be incorrect is that the more you actually do it, the more you will naturally learn it, making it a part of your thought process.

DIRECT OPPOSITION - The older the goalie, the more direct he/she can be in questioning instructions, but ALWAYS be very tactful and respectful when doing so. If you are an older (teenage and up) goalie and have a good relationship with your coach, you may be able to directly question instructions and not get into a confrontational situation. Everyone has an ego and no matter how big or small that ego is, you don't want to offend the other person. It is very important to know the other person and know how far you can push a situation, so be very careful, respectful and calm in doing this. We only recommend this method when a goaltender is on great terms with his coach and knows his reactions, habits and personality very well.

PARENT INTERVENTION - Younger goalies or goalies who aren't comfortable speaking to their coaches can ask their parent to become involved. This is definitely not something we recommend as a first step and not at all when the goalie is in his/her mid to late teens or playing at higher levels.

The older and more competitive the player, the more they are expected to be able to handle situations without their parents becoming involved. Some higher level teams, where the players are in their late teens, want players to be independent and speak for themselves, they don't want to hear from the parents in any situation. So if you are a parent going to speak with the coach of a high level Junior team, you might just be getting your kid traded, benched or removed (yes, it happens) from the team, so be careful.

Parents going to the coach can utilize all the same methods we have covered here, but it is vital that you remain calm, rational and respectful, regardless of the direction the discussion takes. Remember the 24 hour rule (don't speak to the coach for 24 hours if you are upset or irate) and in this situation, it is a good idea to bring your child (goalie) along for the discussion, so you are getting all the facts straight. Kids tend to leave out the details, so don't assume that what you are being told by your child is 100% accurate.

Always be respectful of the other person and never attack their character or personal traits. Keep it about the facts.

Always explain 'why' you want to do something differently. It's hard to argue good facts!

Make sure you ask "why" the coach wants you to do something differently. In the same manner you need to explain your reasoning for not wanting to do something, the coach needs to explain his reasons for wanting you to do it or to change the way you are doing it. There may be a good reason, listen to all advice BEFORE you make any decision.

Always remain calm and speak in an even non confrontational tone

Never go into a conversation with the attitude "I'm right, he's wrong". Hear the other person out first and then offer your insight, facts and observations. If you 'believe' you are correct, but never go into a discussion with a cocky attitude, it's very likely that you'll learn some interesting things and you will definitely be wrong on occasion, but even more importantly, people will like you a whole lot more!

ALWAYS back away when a confrontation is brewing, you can never win in a fight with your coach or one of his/her assistants. It is always best to 'keep the peace' and walk away, even if you are right.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'Old School' Goalie save

During the summer at our Goaltending Schools, we quickly touch on 2 pad stack saves. This is pretty much an old school move, but we now teach it as a desperation save from the initial butterfly position when the goaltender runs out of options. You'll see many pro's use it, but it is one of those "wow, where did that come from' plays, that you don't see often.

One of the things we teach at our goaltending schools and goalie clinics is that a goaltender needs to have all the possible options (save techniques) available to him/her. Much like a carpenter doesn't go to a job with just a hammer, a goalie must not rely on one or 2 saves. A complete goaltender will have many options and 'pull them out of the toolkit' when needed.

This past summer, one of our most promising students (15 year old AA great talent but a bit hard headed) refused to practice this save, saying it was 'old school' and he'd NEVER use it. (This kid has a great butterfly and utilizes it very well.)

Well, we had a long disagreement and he was given the whole explanation as to why we teach it, after some intervention from dad, he reluctantly agreed to work on it, but in his mind it was a huge waste of time.

Funny thing happened this past week, same student tells me about the awesome save he made in a AAA tournament...yep, you guessed it, a TWO PAD STACK. We had a good laugh and he now has a much better understanding of why it is so important to learn EVERYTHING and not just what you think you will use.

Oddly enough I was playing this past weekend and used the 'old school' move twice in one game, making saves on both shots and drawing lots of praise from my team and some choice words from the opponents - it looks cool when it works - otherwise you can look like a beached whale.

Its all about waiting until the last second and throwing the pads out just when the puck is being released, the mid body should be at the blade of the stick (if possible) to gain maximum coverage, but sometimes you just throw the legs out and prey. The hardest part of the 2 pad stack is keeping your balance and not winding up on your butt looking at the roof. The only way to 'get it' is to practice a few.

Remember, it is there if, and when you need it, but don't get into a habit of using this save regularly, its still a desperation play and no matter how good it is, you are in an awful position if there is any kind of rebound.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Goalies Need to Keep Their Shoulders Square to Lower Their GAA

One of the biggest mistakes I see in Training Goaltenders at Our Goalie Schools and Training Centre is the rotation of the upper body when making glove saves. It is imperative that the shoulders, feet and knees remain as square as possible, this maximizes coverage of the net and maintains balance, which is the key to all recovery and movement.

Coaches and parents of goaltenders who want to help in the development of their goalies overall goaltending skills, must watch for this problem and continually remind the goalie to stay square and not to over rotate. I tell my goaltending students that they need to think of their bodies as a door. As a goalie your job is simply to block the path of the puck into the net. A door that is closed will block a lot more shots than a door that is open, even a little bit. Look at the photo of The Colorado goalie, square, solid and controlled>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

To demonstrate the loss of net coverage and balance, have your goaltender get into a squared up blocking position, and stand directly in front of them with your stick pointed at the point of their shoulder (top of the shoulder where it meets the arm), then have the goalie slowly rotate their shoulder backward (toward the net) as if they were making a big glove save with their glove behind the plane of the body. It will become very obvious how quickly the net opens up with the rotation, as they rotate, test balance by giving them a little push, you'll also see how quickly the balance disappears.

Technical teaching and advancees in goaltender training have improved the overall skill level of goaltenders so much that many of the greats wouldn't even be able to crack the lineup if most pro teams in today's game.
<<<Cheevers (still one of thee coolest masks of all time!!) glove behind his body, shoulders not square to the play, falling backward, stick off the ice, whats next - GOAL!!

If a goalie is prone to making big swooping glove saves with the glove or blocker, you'll see them falling on their butt and then scrambling to recover position. On he other hand if the goaltender has been instructed to play with balance and solid positioning, the first save will seldom result in bad positioning or loss of balance.

Watch for this in your own game play, be solid and square. This alone can have a huge impact on lowering your save percentage and helping keep your team in tight games.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Jamie!!

My oldest son Jamie turned 18 on Monday, stayed home had some friends over and ate pizza.

He's a great kid, going to College studying Business Marketing, he has decided to come on board and help me with our Internet Marketing, so you'll see some big improvements to our sites. All I have to do is convince him that video games don't pay as wel and we'll be all set LOL.

Happy Birthday Jamie, you're a great kid and I'm proud of you.
Yes, I'm also proud of your brother and sister as well ; >)

Monday, December 10, 2007

A goalie's dream - SHUTOUT

OK, I don't usually brag, but tonight I earned my first shutout in about 2 years and only the second in the 8 season history of our adult league (JFFHL), which we run on Sunday nights. Our league is NOT goalie friendly, as the average GAA is about 8.00 (even the former Jr. 'A' goalie is around 8) , so they are very few and far between. I get asked all the time if I still play, damn right I do. I may be older and fatter, but I'm a goalie and I love to play and not just oldtimers...

One of my players, who has been in our league for about 4 seasons, said it was the best game he has ever seen me play! "Thank you" but I'm sure I have played better (when I was younger and quicker), but this sure felt good! I had a pretty easy first half with only a few shots, but for the final 40 minutes the other team played with one extra man on the ice, so I saw a fair bit of rubber (about 20 shots) and, if I don't say so myself, made some good saves. The best in a situation I was just teaching a student this week at our Year Round Training Centre.

A player cut across the crease on a breakaway, I slid across and made the save but the rebound got tapped back and was sitting mid crease with me waaayyyyout of position. As I looked at the puck I saw a player was going to shoot it into the empty net, so I did the desparation thing, but I knew exactly what my plan was. I waited until just before he hit the puck with his stick and I threw my blocker and stick toward the puck, he hit it, it hit my blocker, which was the only thing in the net, and bounced over the goal. SAVE!!!

As I said, I was teaching this exact play to a goalie student this week. The key is never to give up on anything and to always throw something in front of a loose puck when a player is about to shoot, look at Hasek, as ugly as his style is, he isn't lucky folks, he knows exactly what he doing. Reach out, put 'something, anything' as close to the puck as you can and do it at the last moment. You'll make a lot of saves that other goalies can't or won't because they either don't know this desparation technique or they simply give up - DON'T EVER GIVE UP!

So today I can smile because I am a goaltender and a goalie with a shutout is a happy goalie!!!

Anniversary of John Lennon's death

I've always been a big Beatles fan and back in 1980 when John Lennon was killed, I was devastated.

His values and outlook on life and how he viewed the world were incredibly honest and enlightening. The world would be so much better off if we all shared Lennon's views, particularly on war and peace. Remember, or for those of you too young to know, John Lennon's modern day anthem 'Give Peace a Chance' pretty much says it all!! Imagine if our world leaders shared his view on peace.

Lennon was an amazing man and a humanitarian that the world came to love, he was so transparent in telling the world what he thought and how he felt. Britney Spears makes headlines every day for being an idiot, Lennon made news for trying to improve the human race and our everyday way of life. How do you want to be remembered? Few celebrities have ever been so open about their views and no one else I can think of, has been so influential around the globe. Lennon is one of my heroes.

December 8 1980 will remain engrained in my mind as the day we lost someone who mattered and someone who stood for so many of the things that we all share a desire for the world.

Lennon was shot to death by a crazed 'fan' outside his home in NY on December 8th 1980 with his wife Yoko by his side. That day we lost one of the greatest musicians of our time, but we also lost one of the greatest visionaries in the history of our planet.

Today I still listen to his music and I marvel at the words he used, the picture he painted of the world as a better place. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and listen to 'Give Peace a Chance' or 'Imagine', listen to the lyrics, his words and their meaning...if you aren't a fan of his music, you'll soon be a fan of his words.

John Lennon's music and words will forever....enjoy them!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Must Be the Week for Bad Goalie Advice from Coaches

Well, 2 more students at out Goaltender Training Centre had really bad advice from their coaches this week, seems its a bad week for coaches trying to be something they are not...goalie coaches!

One of my students comes to see me for goaltending instruction, from the Detroit area. They make the 2 - 3 hour trip often because they can't get good goaltending instruction in their area. The student is 13 and plays AA against Little Caesars, Compuware, Bell Tire, etc., so it's pretty good hockey. The coach suggested that his goaltender play with his chest bent far forward of his legs, as if he was looking down at the ground in front of him. He suggested that this would help his butterfly.

Truth is, this advice couldn't be further from the truth, playing with the body extended forward will SLOW the butterfly drop and eliminate some needed net coverage, plus it kills the absolutely necessary balance that every goalie needs.

The second goaltending student we saw who had received bad advise from his coach was a much younger goalie who's coach had told him that when he dropped into a butterfly he should immediately pull his stick back into his pads. If you can picture, or even imitate this, drop to your knees and pull your stick (blocker) hand all the way back so your stick would be against the knees and straight up and down.

This causes multiple problems:
1. The hole under the armpit becomes MUCH larger than using a 'straight arm' technique with the stick out in front in a 'ramp' type position (which is GOOD, because it allows stick shots to deflect up into the chest for maximum rebound control)
2. It almost always results in the stick moving away from the body when trying to close the hole under the armpit.
3. If a stick save is made the puck will rebound directly back into the slot, much like a ball hitting a wall.

At our goaltending schools and training Centre we always teach our goaltending students to hold their arms almost straight and have their elbows 'popped' out just enough to allow free arm movements, this makes closing the holes under the arms very easy with a simple inward rotation of the elbow, the stick also stays put in the 5 hole area with almost no movement.

We keep hoping coaches will leave the goaltending instruction to the goalie coaches, but it seems it will never happen....

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Coaches Shouldn't Instruct Goalies When They Don't Know!

I had a student in to see me today at our Year Round Goalie Training Centre, she is an awesome 9 year old goalie (one of the best I have seen in my 20 years of goalie instruction) and plays on a competitive team. She and her dad explained that she had been getting mixed messages from myself and the her team coach - dad knew my advice was correct, but both dad and the student was not happy at the mixed messages.

The coach wanted her to dive out after every lose puck that was remotely close to the crease and freeze it. This causes many problems, but the most obvious are:
  • the goalie will become 'dead in the water' floundering (usually on their stomach) for position, leaving the net vacant
  • if the goalie does manage to cover the puck, it can be called delay of game if it is outside the crease
  • the goaltender may get a glove or stick on the puck but with no body leverage to hold the puck on place, it may 'squirt' away, again leaving shooters with an empty net to shoot at

I teach all students to cover lose pucks that are within an outstretched sticks length. The gauge is drop into a butterfly, hold your stick at the shoulders and reach it in front of you as far as you can reach without effecting your balance or moving your hand back on the shaft. This makes it easy for the goalie to know when they can drop and cover and when they can't safely.

Obviously this is much more complicated and depends on the player positions, speed, etc. But this is a good early starting point and easy for the younger goalies to grasp. One of the biggest problems you see with inexperienced goaltenders and goalies who maybe aren't well coached or overly skilled, is that they dive around after lose pucks and wind up 'dead in the water' often on their stomach. This CAN'T HAPPEN. if you dive for a lose puck, you better be 100% sure you can beat the player, cover it and/or poke it to safety.

It is far better for the goalie to regain a solid blocking position and be prepared to stop a rebound than it is to dive after something that can't effectively be covered. Desperation dictates that this WILL happen occasionally, but a smart, well trained goalie knows when to take the risk and when to be smart and simply re establish a good position.

I teach the stick length rule as a guideline for simple covering, if the goaltending student cannot reach the puck within the stick length they must first block the path of the puck from entering the net BEFORE they attempt to cover it. Its amazing how many times you will see goalies try and cover a puck, but not block the path to the net, resulting in a goal. If you put yourself in the path and don't cover it, most of the time the player will 'whack' it back into the well positioned goalie.

Coaches should always teach their goalies to be in a position that puts them (the goalie) between the puck and the net - this is the job of a goalie! A good goaltender will very seldom be in a position where they are diving after lose pucks or trying to cover them without good leverage on their covering glove. It WILL happen, but teach good technique first. The more skilled and positionally correct the goalie is, the less this will happen.

We had a good discussion and both student and dad fully understood the reasoning behind my teaching....if only we could get all the coaches to get some coaching on working with their goalies - wait we offer that program and it's FREE too - but most won't come because they already know it all. LOL

Monday, December 3, 2007

Ingersoll Minor hockey Goalie Clinic

Today we ran another in a series of minor hockey goalie clinics we have presented this winter this was the 2nd for Ingersoll and 8th or 10th overall already.

Our goalie schools and clinics are always well received and we enjoy instructing the minor hockey goalies on the finer points of the game. Over the years we have run into a few 'bumps' in doing these and because myself and the team of goalie instructors we use are all very dedicated and knowledgeable when it comes to knowing exactly what I want from them, in terms of specific goalie instruction and drills they are to run, we seldom ever have a problem we can't improvise and fix 'on the fly'. Today was a little different and exciting as we had a bit of a surprise.

We had 20+ students on the ice, ready to go, our goaltending instructors were ready to start and we had assembled the goalies at one end to begin when we noticed that the arena hadn't provided us with the additional nets we need to set up our stations at. No big deal, this has happened before and the reason has always been the same, the rink guy forgot to put them out, we remind him and there were there in a couple of minutes. NOT TODAY...I asked where the nets were and the answer wasn't good..."the rink forgot you were running a goalie clinic today and they are out back, in the barn".

Well we can't run a goalie clinic without nets for the goalies to use, so Gerry Ellison (my long time Head Instructor) and I set out to quickly redesign the program, on the fly, doing some skating & balance drills, stance & movement drills and a few other goalie instructional items. The great thing was that we 'stalled' for 35 minutes and no one knew, it went like clockwork and the parents who were watching didn't even realize we had made up the entire session (2 hours) because all of our timing and predesigned drills had to be scrapped.

The nets arrived... on a tractor, 35 minutes into the goalie clinic, covered in ice (it was freezing rain outside) and muddy on the bottom, oh the joys of rural arenas.

We love doing goalie clinics and goalie schools and travelling around to new arenas because we always have new and exciting challenges to deal with. not to brag (too much) but we're good at what we do and 20 years of experience affords us the opportunity to be 'quick on our feet' and change or even redesign entire programs without missing a beat. Today was another fine example of this and I want to thank the instructors who are always there for me to make it all happen and come together smoothly for our students.

Another reason to go with an established goalie school with experienced goalie instructors. Things never go perfectly and the ability to react accordingly and make it work, comes from experience and dedication - today between 4 of the instructors on the ice we had OVER 60 YEARS of CERTIFIED GOALTENDING INSTRUCTIONAL EXPERIENCE!! Find that at any other school!

Our guys did a great job, the goalie students learned a lot, had fun and the parents want more, so everyone is happy.

Thanks to Ingersoll Minor Hockey for having us in and being good sports about it and THANKS again to some of the best guys I know, who also happen to be great goaltending instructors too! Gerry, Craig, Mark & Ryan!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Life is Sometimes Too Short

Today was the funeral for the trainer on my sons team. This was a 28 year old man with a bright future ahead of him. He was well liked by the kids and a LOT of friends. The lineup for visitation was a 2 hour wait, so you know he was a popular person.

Nick was at his parents home and fell down a few stairs on Saturday, here one moment and gone the next. Tragic, unexpected and hard to explain.

The kids (13 and 14 year olds) came to the realization that you can be here one day and gone the next, life is something to treasure, enjoy and live to its fullest, don't hold back, because you never know when your time is up.

Nick will be missed by his family, friends, acquaintances and the kids on the team. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family.

20th Anniversary

Well, I have been thinking about setting up a Blog for a few years and I finally did it!

God knows I sometimes have too much to say, sometimes stick my foot in my mouth and occasionally have something worthy to say, but I enjoy writing and sometimes creating controversay with my opinions, but hey, they are mine and mine alone, so I stand by them.

This is the perfect time to begin our new Blog as we enter our 20th anniversary year with Puckstoppers. There are very few hockey or goalie schools on the planet that can claim to have 20 years of experience behind them, in fact we are now in the top 5% of schools in the world for longevity. That IS something to say and be proud of.

I'll try to update this Blog at least once a week, so until next time.....