Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

Cornell University Goalie Drills

These drills work on some of the fundamental puck handling skills a goaltender needs to be able to master. It is extremely important to have a goaltender that can handle the puck, especially at the older age groups.

These drills can be used while working with the defensemen so that both the goaltender and defensemen can work on these fundamental skills.

Goalie Pressure

Goalie Sets

Goalie Wraps


Filed under: coaching, Defensemen, Goaltender, , ,

Goalies Need Validation

To keep their confidence high, many goalies need some sort of validation that they are indeed doing well. The best form of validation is to finish a game with lots of saves made and few goals allowed. This accomplishment can be particularly difficult for goalies on good teams who are not getting a lot of work. They may allow few goals but make relatively few saves. And in a 7-2 win, for example, they might wonder how significant their particular contributions were. There is a story of one established NHL goalie, in his prime, complaining in mid-game that the saves he made weren’t going up on the arena scoreboard’s “shots” section fast enough. He sent someone up to the operator’s booth between periods to make sure the saves were logged in as he made them. He drew confidence from seeing these saves recorded. That was part of his validation. The coach must be aware of this phenomenon should his or her goalie battle confidence streaks. One tack is to point out to a goalie that there are a lot of positive contributions made by a goalie in a game beyond saves. In one game recently, a goalie deflected six passes intended for the goal mouth in the last half of the game. Each one of those passes, had they connected, would have resulted in a prime scoring opportunity. None did and the goalie did not receive any “stats” to show for it. The same scenario comes about when a goalie smartly ties up a loose puck, for example, when his team is under siege. The act of getting a whistle amid chaos is something a goalie should be commended for but it is an act without visible stats. The coach can point these things out to a goalie, making sure he knows that those “little things” are important and they have been noticed. This provides much needed validation.

Contributed by Joe Bertagna

Filed under: Goaltender, , ,

Working with the Goaltender in Practice

Do you give your goalie enough work dealing with screens at practice? It is easy to fall into the habit of goalie drills being shooters vs. goalies, without the typical traffic in front of the goalie that causes so much trouble. Put a couple of attackers and one defender in front of the net. Feed a pass from the boards (or corner) to the mid-point and have the point shoot low. The two attackers in front should jockey for different positions in front, not only to screen the goalie but to give the goalie different deflection angles. Occasionally, have one of the attackers withdraw for a pass from the point. The goalie has to read when to drop and smother both the shot and the deflection or, if the point man passes to a teammate who has pulled away from the front, to move to the new angle and remain standing. The defenseman has to learn to be a help (moving someone out or covering someone) and not just another body in the way. (Another way to do this is to use the other goalie or goalies as screens if you want to save ankles.) The goalie learns to work hard to find the puck, to stay low, and also to react the right way: down and close to the screen or out on the more lateral pass.

Another question comes up in these situations: how involved do you want your goalie to get with these screening players? There must be a middle ground somewhere between doing nothing and getting too involved. Goalies can use their glove hand to push or make a quick jab with the blocker but getting their stick too involved eliminates a key piece of equipment in stopping low shots most likely to get through the screen. Also, stick work is obvious and can get called. And the stick can get tangled in legs and skates, hampering the goalie if puck movement necessitates lateral movement by the goalie.

Remember: the screener is trying to bother the goalies both physically (they can’t see the puck) and mentally (breaking a goalie’s concentration). The goalie must work hard and maintain his focus.

Filed under: Goaltender, ,



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