August 6, 2014

Deep Thoughts

A couple of topics make their way into this entry because I've had a sort of mental break through in my struggles handling breakaways. I also got the chance to skate out again and enjoy the thrill of being offensive-minded instead of guarding the net.

Matching the Speed

Since coming back to goaltending, one of my biggest deficiencies has been playing a break away. For any of you that play beer league hockey, you'll know that the break away is a staple of the game. This was a problem for me because with an average of 3-plus break aways per game, I was probably letting in more than half of them.

Two things have happened. First, I spent some time with my goaltending guru who beat me up about not coming far enough out of the net to challenge the opponent. Secondly, I finally realized why I was so reluctant to do that. When I came out from the crease, the shooter approached, I flopped and he skated around me for an easy goal.

The missing ingredient was to match the player's speed, or at least come close to it, as you retreat towards the net. Being square to the shooter while keeping centered between he and the net is crucial but it's virtually impossible to do unless you are pacing the incoming player.

Over the past two weeks I've had plenty of live game practice on this- including a 14 round shootout. I am definitely seeing some better results. It's given me the confidence to come out and challenge knowing that I'm not going to become a speed bump on the way to the net.

Here's a good video to watch

Sound & Vision

I got another opportunity to skate out recently and was thrilled to score my second goal in four games. While running the game back in my head later I realized that my situational awareness on the ice was not very good and the whole experience was a little like driving through a tunnel with the windows open in a car- dark, windy and noisy. Anytime I got possession of the puck in the offensive zone, I felt overwhelmed and a little panicked.

So I began to wonder. Do many beer league skaters experience a sort of tunnel vision when playing? Is it due to my inexperience and rush of adrenaline?

If this tunnel vision exists for some/many/most beer league skaters then I've been giving far too much credit as to the complexity of tactics. Focus more on the play in front of me and less on the what-ifs of drop passes and tic-tac-toe plays.

Everyone's mileage will vary but to what degree are these shooters in my league basically driving through that dark, windy tunnel?