Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Goalie camp - final days 6 & 7; the return of the teacher and the coast to the finish line

so i'm late on goalie camp blogging.... so you'll get the wrap-up of the final two class sessions in one fantastic post!

session #6 brought about the end to Wilkie's absence ( though only a day gone it still means i only got 86% of the professional instruction that i paid for; kindly refer to my day-five rant in an earlier post)

turns out he was up in Utah to be a spectator to some juniors training camp or something. our trickle-down learning benefit from this came from him telling us that apparently the coaches to the next NHL stars are now advocating a new position for the trapper (the glove that looks like a oversized baseball mitt) in the ready stance where the trapper opening faces down toward the puck instead of up and out. i suppose the theory here is that you'd want to point the pocket of the glove toward teh area from which the puck will be heading toward you, i.e. down toward the ice level where the puck is. hey, if it's good enough for the almost-pros i'll sure give it a shot.

as per the other class days (day five excepted) we mixed in one new drill with three other old ones for four total stations of work. the new drill for day six was the 2 - on - 0 .

the "2" refers to the number opponents (one with the puck) skating in on net with the intent to score, "0" refers to the number of your defensemen who didn't screw up somehow on the ensuing play.

for a 2 on 0 to occur the opponents had to get past both defensemen, who probably either were caught napping or who made some flat-footed attempt to stop the puckcarrier and were summarily circumvented. this kind of situation is a tough one for the goalie as the two opponents, with enough time and space in the zone, can stretch out the potential shot angles.

not only does the goalie have to worry about staying in between the net and the puck on the current puckcarrier's stick but he also has to contend with the possibility of the puck being suddenly moved to the other opponent who is likely all the way on the opposite side of the zone. if the pass is made the goalie usually has to scramble over to get in between the net and the puck's new location, often giving up proper gap control in depth to maintain the angle (and of course, students, we know that being too deep opens up many more and bigger holes to shoot at!); even after a successful scramble the puck might be played right back over to the first puckcarrier, requiring another frantic scramble to the puck's newest location.

even if the original puckcarrier never passes at all and takes the shot, the goalie is still at a disadvantage as he usually gives up some depth on the puckcarrier to hedge against the pass and also has his concentration partially diverted to the presence of the other opponent.

all in all, 2 on 0s are a bad, bad thing and do not endear defensemen to their goalie when they are allowed to happen frequently.

....i said earlier that we only mixed in one new drill but i take that back now, we also worked on dump-ins (i'm guessing that this or the 2 on 0s would have been week five's new drill).

a dump-in refers to the opponent shooting the puck into the offensive zone (the zone with the net they want to score on, the one i swore to protect), usually along the end boards, to put the puck behind the net and send guys chasing after it as part of the appropriately-named "dump-and-chase" strategy. the idea here for the offense is to force the defending team to beat the offense to the puck. at best, the offense gets to the puck first and starts the play from behind the net, a more dangerous spot for the goalie than you'd first think. at worst, the defending team gets to the puck first but at that point is usually collapsed deep in its own zone. overall not a bad play choice for teams with quick offensemen who can race quickly to the puck.

the goalie often has the best chance out of any of the defending team to get to the dump-in first. as the puck is shot down and around the end boards he has to leave his crease and travel behind the net to the back boards to stop the puck and look to move it to one of his defensemen for a counterattack up the ice. easy enough in theory but in practice it's almost pathetic how difficult it can be to move a mere six feet in enough time to stop the puck.

the dump-in drill consisted of one man at the blue-line (the line marking the beginning of my defensive zone) who would shoot a puck around the boards behind the net; goalie had to leave his crease and go to the back boards to stop the puck, move it to a defender, and then get back in front of the net to field a shot from another offensive guy in the middle.

ideally, you want to get your whole body against the back boards to form a wall through which the puck cannot pass; with the speed of the dump-ins , however, i found myself lunging with the stick more than a few times. not much more to say about it than that, i was pretty tired from the other drills by the time i got to the dump-ins so i kinda half-assed it.

near the end of the session, in lieu of breakaways, Wilkie introduced the shooter-goalie fitness challenge: shooter would set up in the slot area (middle of the zone about ten to twelve feet out from the net) with five pucks and fire them on net in rapid succession. goalie stops as many as he can, when the dust settles the shooter owes three push-ups for each save that the goalie makes and the goalie owes three up-and-downs (going down into butterfly and back up) for each goal that is let in. i did pretty well on this one, four out of five saves on the first go-around and a full five for five on the second series so my workout was rather light.

fast-forward to this recent Monday, before the start of day seven:

i got out on the ice about twenty minutes before the start of the session so i could skate around and take a few warmup shots. the rink was having some sort of open-ice session where a few scattered people were milling around. one of the groups out there was what appeared to be a young dad and his kid of about four years of age (i'm a bad age guesser); obviously not a hockey player yet as the kid could barely skate and was actually in a rented pair of figure skates, but the dad did have him in a helmet and carrying a plastic hockey stick in his hands. after a while they waddled over near the net so i put a puck out there for him to shoot at the goal. he could barely move the puck a few feet so i think the first "goal" i let in i actually had to reach back and swipe at to knock it the full way in. did that a good number of times, a fun chance to give the kid some positive goal-scoring imagery and let me make some goofy super-slow missed save attempts.

day seven was "goalie's choice" day; at the end of day six Wilkie had asked us to bring in on paper our choice of preferred drill to run for the last session. i turned mine in , which read: "2 on 0s; for the love of god please no more pokecheck drills".

turns out i was one of about two people who remembered to turn in a suggestion, so we ended up doing these:

1) 2 on 0s - i actually regretted the decision to propose this because, although i did want to practice more on them, the monkeys who represented the attacking twosomes did not know how to recreate the pace or accuracy of the play. in general a 2 on 0 has to result in a shot fairly quickly as your defense should be charging back to hurry them up; with the practice monkeys, however, they skated around slowly, made some bad passes, and generally spaced themselves poorly. on top of that, the second twosome pair would usually start their "rush" even while you were down from making the save on the first twosome. overall.. blech.

2) butterfly slides - this drill i liked and i'm glad someone picked it (or that Wilkie picked it for us, who knows) ; pucks on both sides of the net and goalie had to push off from one post to the opposite side in a half-butterfly to make a save on what would be a shot after a pass through the crease. very entertaining and i'm getting better at it all the time

3) up-down saves - nothing more here than an endurance-save drill for the goalie where you drop into butterfly and get back up to field a shot, repeat four more times. the second series you got to drop on your stomach and recover back up for the shot..... fun! actually it was pretty fun.

4) dump-ins - just as crappy as last week.

one final hurrah of breakaways at the end of the hour and that was it, goalie camp complete! i eagerly await my gold-star-labeled certificate of participation in the mail.

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