Last night I finally managed to find a break in my game schedule to attend a skills camp at one of my local rinks. I've been keen to get out because of a man I met at a party in October. His name is Bill Ivey. Bill is an old, salty character who has played and coached for years- including some high level goalies- and he instilled more knowledge in my goaltending database than any time since I lost my goalie coach way back in April.
I would have thought that the best Bill could offer me were a few minor tweaks to my technique and maybe some insight into the game of angles but boy, was I wrong. Just a few samplings of what Bill was able to bring to light include;
Having grown up playing stand-up, I had to learn an entirely new stance for the butterfly and I thought that was one of the solid parts of my "new" game. It turns out I have been missing a huge element which is my skate position. Even though my stance is wide and my pads create a 'V', I've been standing on top of my skates with the blade perfectly perpendicular to the ice. I should have the boot angled over on a 45 degree with my cowling almost making contact with the ice. This change makes my pushes much stronger, my movement quicker and almost eliminated the upper body bobbing I was doing when pushing parallel to the crease. In only a few minutes of drills I realized what a huge difference this will make to my mobility and net coverage.
Skate & stance
I've been pretty lazy with my stick position when moving. Simple instruction from Bill has turned me into a "where the stick goes the body will follow" guy. In only a few minute of drills, my movement was crisper and my preparedness for the shot was greatly increased. No longer was my stick face flopped somewhere to my right when I arrived for the shot. It's now on the ice and covering the 5-hole. Leading my "T" pushes with my gloves also instantly put me in better balance and took some of the slop out of my initial move. I expect to see improvement here in the coming months.
Lead with the stick, Lead with the gloves
Bill had me take my stance and drop into my butterfly. I have always felt that one of my strengths is that I don't collapse my upper body when I drop and that my stick remains firmly centered. Bill immediately pointed out that my hand and arm position- while keeping my stick out front was creating a huge six hole under my elbow. By pushing the blade out further, angling it to 45 degrees and pulling my elbow into my side, I was not only reducing double blocking but virtually eliminating my six hole. It also puts my arm in a much stronger position make a stick save.
Stick hand position
I realize this is a lot of technical talk that bores many of you so left me finish by saying how excited and almost re-born I feel by finding Bill and starting a new journey of education and improvement.
Just when I was feeling resigned to my level of play, I now have set my sights on greater things.