No, I did not mistype – I meant Girls hockey. Not Women’s hockey, but …..
I’ve posted this before, but for those that haven’t read my previous riveting posts….I grew up without a dad, he passed away when I was young, so being an only child it was only my Mom and I. All though my Mom never came straight out and told me that boys and girls are equal, I see now as an adult she didn’t have to, as it was what I was exposed to. Her strength and determination raised me to respect females.
I have three daughters, the youngest two; Sarah and Bella, are in hockey. My oldest Emily in competitive dance (You think hockey is expensive???) . My middle daughter Sarah now 12 has been playing since she was seven. The first year and a half as player and since the age of nine as a full-time goalie. In grade three she had to do a school project on someone famous. You-know-who is going to come up if you google “famous female Canadian hockey goalie” and so Sarah’s journey began, not only as a goalie, but with Shannon Szabados as a role model that ended up reaching out and connecting with her on a personal level.
I was an assistant coach on Sarah’s team during her second year of Atom and first year of Peewee – You know, the guy who skates around trying to hammer in pucks into an empty net, yet misses by a mile? Having never played organized hockey myself growing up, I was out of my element. Seeing as nobody knew how to coach a goalie, I was put in the role of trying to instruct my own daughter. Only relying on what goalie coaches would teach her during private lessons, I would regurgitate during practice. It was in her first year of Peewee that I realized I needed to “walk the walk”, so myself, some friends and another small group of strangers cobbled together a team and joined a league with me at 45 years old between the pipes for the first time. I became hooked VERY quickly. I couldn’t get enough, going from never played before (and could barely skate) to playing 3 times a week and yearning for more.
As well, I’ve played at some ladies nights at the community centre when they needed a goalie. I’m not very good, but I’ve been told its more fun than playing against a garbage can, a tire…..or playing posts. Some of these women are damn good too. They are accurate and way more technical than guys that play with the same speed and ability. Sarah’s goalie coach says that women play a better technical game than guys. I can see it as guys rely on brute force a lot. Imagine if you took hitting away from an NHL game? Something to think about.
Since I started playing, I began to appreciate the sport at a different level. I am no longer just “watching” a game. I’ve began to see the plays develop, appreciate the difficulty of the ice and realize that maybe one player can make a detrimental mistake, but at the end of the game it “usually” doesn’t define the game – it’s a team effort. All though that has less to do with the bottom div of beer league, it has everything to do with interacting with the kids that I’ve helped coach. Kids that may continue to play hockey as they grow up and hopefully remember the fun times they had playing hockey.
This feeling has translated into every game I watch. NHL, a midget game after my daughter’s practice, U18 and definitely watching Canada’s National women’s hockey team, All with the same excitement. To date the best hockey game I have ever seen in my life was the Canada versus USA here in Winnipeg leading up to the 2018 Olympics. The excitement in the air and ferocity on the ice was insane. And if I remember correctly, it was a sold out venue. Wait what? Women’s hockey sold out? Hmmm……
Over the years I have met some great Pro hockey players through the summer camps my daughters have attended. Both AHL & NHL players as well a several National Women’s players. There is a difference in attitude though. The “guys” will do their time on the ice, stop for a picture and then be on their way, not much talking. The women are different. They do the same ice time and picture taking, but they take time and interact with kids on a different level. Its genuine from each player, the desire to grow the sport of female hockey.
For the past several years our girls have been attending the Sami Jo Small hockey camp. This year our youngest went in as a goalie – at 8 years old. When I came to pick Bella up one day, Sami Jo who was running a drill with some older girls saw me and came off the ice to tell me how well Bella was doing in net. Sami Jo told me about the saves Bella made and her general great attitude in being a goalie. It may be a gesture that seems insignificant to some, but when you consider a 3-time Olympian took the time to do so it speaks volumes of her character and compassion for the kids she coaches.
Bailey Bram another Olympian who is also a regular at the Sami Jo camp has put on her own elite hockey school that Sarah has attended. When Sarah came to pickup her little sister from camp, Bailey stopped to talk to Sarah asking about the CancerCare fundraising Sarah has been doing. These women remember the little things. Again character beyond what I would expect.
During the six-game series leading up to the Olympics, Sarah was excited to see her hero, Shannon Szabados play for Canada. When we found out that Shannon was not dressing that game, Sarah was sadden enough that she wanted to skip the game. We convinced her to stay, but only because I received a message from Shannon saying that she wanted to meet Sarah after the game. Shannon has supported Sarah’s fundraising efforts from day one. As parents it was mind-blowing and hard to keep that a secret. But sure enough after the game Shannon found us. Sarah was so star struck, she couldn’t say much. Again female hockey players that connect with the youth at a totally different level.
Once the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded in May of this year, 200 of the best female hockey players in the world had the guts to take a stand. They knew that a better long-term solution was needed if Women’s Hockey was to flourish. So they decided to not play for the 2019/2020 season and instead focus on making female hockey careers a viable one and so the PWHPA was born. The timing is right now and women hockey players need support from corporations, media and investors to push the Women’s product to the next level – It seems as though it is an untapped resource. They aren’t second class athletes and they want to make a living doing what they love. Not to have to have a regular job then a 10pm practice, making a meager $2000/year with no athletic support and no sponsorship, it’s literally heart breaking. DanHarbridge has been doing some great work in getting people talking about women’s hockey, sponsorship, the product and talent that that they produce.
All that being said, when my youngest daughter tells me she wants to play in the NHL, in my heart, I know that isn’t likely, even if she was a boy. But with the hard work and determination that the PWHPA is doing now, daughters all over the world will one day soon have a professional league to dream about. What I tell her is that if she tries hard, practices, plays for the team and has fun – anything is possible. Given enough time and encouragement, yes, I do believe anything is possible. One day, *I* might even win a low level Div E beer league championship.
If I had sons instead of daughters, I may have never been exposed to female hockey like I have been. I may or may not have started hockey at an earlier age and I may have never written (albeit poorly) this article or this website. But the truth is I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is an exciting time for Women’s Hockey, lots of unknowns and uncertainties, but I’m sure glad I get to see things happen.
….. Women’s hockey and most importantly my daughter’s gave me the gift of hockey, plain and simple, So a big thanks to all the female hockey players out there from Novice to Pro. Without you, I wouldn’t get to enjoy a 11:10pm ice time in the dead of a -42C Winnipeg winter – Something I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Wow! – What a weekend. Sunday night saw the Bench Warmers take on the first place Puck & Shillelaghs. No surprise that it was a loss, 8:4 – I thought I made some good saves. Need to work on moving back and forth in order to see past the screens……and breakaways – holy crap do I get burnt on the 1 on 0’s – Every-Single-Time…. Keep in mind, it was post SuperBowl Sunday, a few or our players were missing and at least one D was totally wasted.
This year has taken a toll on our players though, Allen one of our soon to be CPP collectors pulled his groin muscle earlier in the year and has only been back for about 4 games.
But last night – Holy Moly let me tells ya, Hockey’s an unforgiving game dont’cha know? I only saw the aftermath of Patty (Patrick) down on the ice clutching his leg….Turns out colliding and a funny twist with the skate catching can break the fibula, shift the tibula and tear some ligaments!
Also taking a puck in the ear from 6-feet away caused Kyle 3 stitches and a great looking jersey! – No one can figure out how that puck got that kinda height cause there was no one in between the shooter and the victim to tip it.
Big thanks to Jimmy Mac and CanLan for being quick to attend to our wounded.
All though our injuries this weekend were pure fluke, remember, this is beer league. The only ones watching your game is your significant other who will quickly try and forget what they just saw and the other teams up at the bar drinking who will forget the colour of your jersey as soon as they turn around.
……Skate hard out there and be nice to your goalie – No mellon ringers in warmups
While reading this, you may think I know nothing about anything, but I can assure you, you may be right.
Quick recap, Never played organized hockey before, only started last year since coaching my daughter in net and thought I better put my money where my mouth is. Love the position and am glad I made the plunge. Now to the rant……
My daughter’s private goalie coach who I have gotten to know over the past several years and who also coaches me has mentioned before, when it comes to head coaches they don’t know how to coach a goalie. What they need is a target in net for their forwards so they can work on attacking skills and drills. They need a goalie to stop pucks (cause you know, goalies only have one job), but they rarely know the mentality and mechanics behind being a goalie.
When it comes to kids, too many times during games do I hear coaches yell out “GET UP, GET UP!” to their goalie after they are down in a butterfly. I’ll give you a clue here, the “butterfly” is a style of goal-tending. It is a popular style that is taught A LOT now-a-days. The process of recognising when to get back up or when to stay down comes from experience and confidence.
I’ve also heard my own daughter be told right after a loosing game “We are going to work on <blah blah blah>” Instead of, “Hey great game, tough loss, but you made some great saves, we are all going to get ready to work hard next practice” If you are not the goalie coach and have not worked with that goalie developing that goalie’s skills, don’t try and reinvent the wheel. You are just going to potentially undo someone else’s work and guaranteed, that child is already leaving knowing that they did not perform. Focusing in on the negatives right after a game makes things worse.
That brings me to the continuation of Part 1 of this post. The mental aspect of the Tendy position. As a player, if you go into a game with feelings of the opposing team being better than you, or you remember a certain player on the other team that burnt you the last time, you might be able to take solace in knowing you have a good line mate this time around, or you have more players now than last time. You have a team surrounding you on the ice and on the bench. Teammates that can comfort you, joke with you, or you can come up with a plan if something didn’t work on the last shift.
I’m not saying at all that a goalie is not part of the team, but as a goaltender, you are the “last line of defense”. You are of course somewhat physically isolated from the rest of the team, its you, the net and that deadly red line. Agree or disagree, as a goalie, you do feel somewhat alone on the ice and you do feel that the scoreboard is a direct reflection of your ability. I’ve seen it in my daughter over the past four years and I’ve felt it myself over the past (almost) two years.
Imagine that with a lot of time to yourself to reflect on the last play, the last attack, the last save……the last goal, its hard not to get into your own head and think too much. Often, you have to try not to get too worked up and focus on the developing play rather than the what just happened. Now imagine your a kid who loves the position, but you don’t have the mental capacity to know you need to calm down, instead you hear your coach yelling from the bench. Your not sure what he is saying, but you know its directed at you. Nothing good comes from that. Nothing.
Even as an adult its hard not to get too wrapped up in what went wrong, In my case: Why am I not getting better? What just happened? What the heck am I doing out here??? I play in the ASHL league, we are doing better this year than last year, but we’ve had those games where I doubted my decision to be in net. I also play every Wednesday night with the same 16 or so guys, “Pickup” style. Usually I get peppered with shots and loose by a margin of double…into the double digits too. But it’s pickup and the score isn’t really a reflection of anyone’s abilities….riiiiiight. Last week Wednesday, I went in focusing on closing up my 5hole. Tried to remain calm, relaxed and just go and have fun. The game ended in a staggering 22:5 win and not a single 5hole goal from me. The point is, sometimes you need to celebrate the small victories, even when no one is watching. Don’t let the game get into your head instead focus on the next play or the next game. Be aware when your coaching a goalie or you have a goalie son or daughter, they know when they’ve bombed. Focus less on the bad and celebrate the good.
Over the past year, I have had to get some guys to sub-in for me. Twice one of the skaters on my team donned the pillows for me. After the second time, he said never again, his body couldn’t take it anymore.
Your body eventually adjusts, it’s your mind that causes you to sink or swim. I have the “luxury” of telling myself that I am a beginner, old and not very good – but that doesn’t stop me from doubting my decision to be in net. You see being in net means a lot of time to yourself, sometimes too much thought goes into figuring out what to do on a play. I find myself thinking – Wow – I wanna make a flashy windmill save like that guy. Instead the next 6 shots are all 5-hole – all finding the back of the net. It can be demoralizing.
But hey don’t get me wrong, it is a fun position. You get to scour the new & use gear websites & Instagram and marvel at other peoples bad decisions on pad wraps or custom paint jobs. If you have a good game, your team mates will let you know. If you had a bad game, all you can hope for is your teammates telling you that you didn’t have much help. If they don’t, well then you know you stunk up the ice.
A little bit of training goes a long way.
On the plus side, my team and I have as many wins so far this year that we did all of last year!
Last year I ended with a GAA of 5.65, 697 SA and SV% of .780 in 32 games, This year I am hanging in with a GAA of 4.53 (I had one really, really, REALLY bad game), 378 SA and SV% of .815 in 15 games.
So in case anyone is wondering, no I did not take summer off. I played summer league, which was a tougher game to play. People were right that teams are harder in summer. – Hardcore I guess. Use green guys joked that we were using summer league as practice for winter…….and so it started Saturday night.
Saturday we played “The Pylons” – A decent team that apparently we only played once in Winter and lost 4:1 (Keep that score fresh in your head) – half the team that showed up was guys that didn’t play summer – EVERYONE from the 2017 winter season came back so there were no new faces, but it was good to see everyone again. Some guys admitted that the game was going to be a bit rough, being back on skates after a summer off.
The game ended in a 4:1 loss (again).
1 good goal
1 goal my fault for not locking up on the post
1 goal that I was soooooooo sure I had a glove on, but missed it completely. Clear line of site, nothing but a few sticks in the pucks flight path. Not sure if it got tipped ever so slightly, but I didn’t have it even close, so I didn’t do my job.
1 goal buried in close because I lost my stick in a net crash and just could not scramble enough to save even with one good pad block.
We potted 1 goal – I was told it was a fluke, but hey, a goal is a goal!
Bought a new CR/2 on Friday in anticipation of our Saturday night game against the Village People.
What can I say? I’m a NEW goalie, how am I supposed to know the difference right? Well I can tell you coming from a Sherwood T80 stick, the Warrior feels similar, but not the same. Balanced a bit different, BUT its rebound control is much much better. With the paddle down, the Sherwood wood (See what I did there???) allow the puck to bounce out a foot. The Warrior – only inches.
On the Sherwood, I had to tape the bottom of the shaft where it met the paddle – only because there was no grip there. The Warrior has “Slidegrip” technology, Basically sticky grip on the paddle and slightly up the shaft. All though you can feel it, I had to tighten my grip on the stick to make sure it wasen’t going to slip out of position. Perhaps something I need to get use to, or I was over compensating for being a crappy goalie.
I’ll be honest, I only had 12 shots on me – but hey that’s 12 shots that didn’t find the back of my net!
We had some spares come help us out Saturday night as we thought we were going to be short. Two new D to our lineup, one of which I play with on Wednesday nights at the Community Centre. The other, Gus, a friend of one of our forwards was an amazing D – short guy, but amazing speed, accuracy and moves so smooooooth!
At the end of the 1st, we were up 2:0 – Based on the shots I faced and the frustration from the other Netminder, I thought we’d have a real chance of winning this game. Once the 3rd puck found its way to the back of the opposing net the other Tendy threw a small tantrum – Sorry dude, I’ve been there, it will pass.
The end of the 2nd resulted in a 4:0 score. At this point, there was a BAD BAD BAAAAAAAAAD word twirling around in my head. It’s the word that all Goaltenders dare not speak but scream it inside their mask – “Shutout“. A few games have gone past where one guy on the team whispered that word to me mid game. I blame him for jinking those games and it was his voice that was taunting me in my head during that last period. – Thanks Nathan…..
In the 3rd on one breakaway the attacking forward lost control of the puck at the last minute and I was able to poke check it away – Phew! The last breakaway I squared up to the puck and thought I committed too soon, going down in a butterfly…..as I was going down I stretched my right leg out as far as it would go and felt the bounce of the puck off my toe……What a gratifying feeling!
There are a few things that I think contributed to the win:
We had great chemistry that night, 11 skaters, everyone in position and accuracy and speed from all of them.
I had a one-on-one lesson earlier that day, went through some fundamentals and Josh, my goalie coach fixed me up in my ready stance. Taking before and after pictures really helped me realize how flawed my stance was.
Josh also told me to relax and not just play for the team, but play for myself. It made it a more fun game.
Only facing 12 SOG, a third of what I normally face, made the game less exhausting for me.
My wife came to the game. She is what is called “good luck”
We played “Dancing Queen” by Abba – That may be our new pre-game song. The ASHL guy shook his head and laughed as he dropped off the roster sheet minutes before the game. Hey – whatever works.
Winning feels good, a Shutout feels better – especially when its your very first one, but don’t worry, I know I will be put back in my place at the next game. I’m not looking back at the Shutouts and Wins that I got in the past, I’m looking forward to the future SO & wins that are yet to come.