Goaltending Importance


                There is no position in team athletics that is able to alter the outcome of a game (either positively or negatively) more than a goaltender could do in hockey. I understand the critical nature of a pitcher in baseball, a quarterback in football, and a great scorer in basketball. However, absolute bombardment from the opponent that a goaltender might confront is clearly worse than the challenges that individuals in other sports would encounter.

                Consequently, a goalie must be the most determined, concentrating, emotionally balanced, unyielding, and technically sound player on the team, and he absolutely must stop shots that clearly should not result in goals. Nothing is more detrimental to a team than a goaltender who consistently allows “impossible” goals from various attempts because of assorted mistakes and who lacks the physical and/or mental ability to act properly in any situation, such as but not limited to moving from post to post as an opponent circles the net attempting to “stuff” the puck, stopping “dump-ins” to set up teammates for an easier breakout, hugging the post with proper form so that no wide-angled goal is allowed, moving forward with perfect form to eliminate any angle a shooter might have to score, fighting through screens to locate the puck, sliding across the crease and stacking the pads, directing rebounds away from the net, properly advancing and not staying deeply in the net in order to prevent the puckcarrier from skating freely through the crease, and passing the puck sharply to a specific destination.

                Most especially, a goalie must always display a calm demeanor with a determination to overlook instantly each goal scored against him and to devote his full energy to allowing no further scores. “Don’t let your yesterdays interfere with your tomorrows.” A goaltender’s teammates must always be convinced that he is fiercely competitive and will never be mentally conquered.

                I have seen teams very heavily outshot while securing few chances themselves. Yet, if the puck does not travel past their goalie, he can “steal” the game for his team. Conversely, if a goalie faces only a few shots and allows one or more “bad” goals, while his team totally dominates play yet fails to score as much as the opposition, this scenario is highly unfortunate and destabilizing to all skaters on the losing team. They do not ponder the chances they missed, but rather fault the goaltender.

                If the goalie displays a pattern of poor performances, he needs to discern why he is continually allowing “unacceptable” goals. Firstly, he must learn if he is technically sound in performing all tasks mentioned in Paragraph 2 (consult a goalie coach, read books, etc.) and, if he is not, he must work to overcome his weaknesses in order to become as proficient as possible. Once the goalie has done all he can do to maximize his abilities, the team should be content and concentrate on always exerting 100% effort (especially defensive) in support of their teammate by attempting to deny all good scoring chances. There is an unwritten contract in hockey that skaters should always aim for this, while goalies agree never to allow "horrible" goals. Both parties striving to fulfill this contract epitomizes a team's cohesion. 

                In a competitive league, no one enjoys playing with a goalie who is not trustworthy and is repeatedly a prime reason why his team loses. It is regrettable that all skaters cannot always play their best – no matter what! However, allowing ‘impossible” goals is deflating to a team, and who knows what the effect of shoddy goaltending will be? It could be deadly! Will skaters remain mentally tough amidst constant despair?

                If you are a goalie who too frequently allows “bad” goals and have done everything possible to be technically sound while always focusing fully mentally and physically, at least be certain to display all the traits that I have stated for a goaltender, who is clearly the most critical player on the team." A goaltender should remember that he has voluntarily chosen to play this immensely dynamic position and must prove that he is the backbone of the team. "If you cannot tolerate the heat, do not enter the kitchen.”