January 22, 2018

Falling Down a Mountain

Listen up beer league players. I'm going to lay down some wisdom you are going to want to hear.

Warm-ups are under way and you are either sniping your own goalie when he isn't looking or blasting slappers off the side boards. Do yourself a favor. Take 10 seconds and watch the opposing goaltender while he warms up.

Is he:
A. Drunk
B. Fat
C. Old

Pick any two and and it he fits, then I am going to give you the Recipe for a Win and maybe a goal or two off your own blade.

Playing goalie is exhausting. On a typical night, beer league goalies can see anywhere from 25 (low) to 60 (high) shots in a game. But watch your own goalie not the puck while you sit resting between shifts. For every shot that gets blocked or misses the net, at least half of the time he has to play it like its on net. Watch as he drops down to the ice as the puck goes down low and now he has to push from post to post as the puck cycles. Notice when it pops back to point, he's getting back onto his skates to square up for another possible shot. See how he has to shuffle across tracking the puck as it moves across the blue line? All of this takes a lot of energy.

Now imagine doing that for 30-60 seconds while your team fights for possession only to turn it over at your own blue line and the whole sequence starts again. Can't imagine it? Then strap on some goalie gear and go to a drop in.

To be certain there are young, fit beer league goalies who can play three back-to-back games and barely work up a sweat, I am not one of them and if you see someone like me instead of them in the warm up then here are your keys to victory:

  • Shoot early and often– who cares if its 4 feet wide? The goalie will play it and it results in an up/down for him.
  • Cycle the puck down low– Once he's down make him go side to side as much as possible.
  • Back to the point– Now that he's down on the ice, get it back to the point and make him pop back up.
  • Draw a penalty and repeat items above– its super effective when you are a man up.
  • Retain possession in the offense zone for as long as possible to maximize the effect.
If the opposing goalie is like me, then after a period or two of this he will not only be pretty tired but he will begin questioning the choices that put him into net.

If you follow the Ancient Netminder's Recipe for Success, then by the start of the 3rd period, he's been tracking 40+ shots and gone down to the ice and back up roughly 65 times in 30 pounds of gear and starts making hard choices about just how dangerous your weak wrister from the dots looks to him. That's your time to shine! Your backdoor snow-shoveling shots will never have a greater chance of becoming game-winning goals. Your back-hander that wouldn't hurt a fly will become the hatty you've always chased. Your along-the-ice-because-you-never-learned-to-lift-a-slapper will become a dangerous and possibly unstoppable shot.

Just make sure the goalie is drunk, fat or old– I know every night I'm at least two of them.