• Scholarship: NetWork Goaltending Coaching Symposium

    It feels like forever since I’ve posted anything on here, but after successfully publishing Between Two Worlds in late-March, I took some time to plan out my next professional endeavor. If you’ve had a chance to read the book, you already know that I felt I was called to transform my company (The Hockey Guild, LLC) into a non-profit 501-c3 organization (The Goalie Guild, INC).

    The game of hockey has blessed me with so many unforgettable training, mentoring, and learning opportunities over the years, so I wanted to create similar opportunities for underprivileged and under-educated goalies and goalie coaches.

    Thankfully, the IRS approved my application for the new non-profit, granting me a 501-c3 status, so I’ve been hard at work creating a new business model that will allow me to benefit and support the goalie community in a charitable manner. All of my pro goalie consulting services are now available under this new model, and I’ve created six annual scholarships that will be available beginning sometime in August when the all-new website and non-profit model is officially launched.

    NetWork Goaltending’s summer training program in Finland

    As many of you know, I just returned from another amazing learning experience via NetWork Goaltending‘s first-annual Summer Training Program in Vierumaki, Finland. As the company’s Director of Operations, I worked closely with the four founders (Mike Valley, Thomas Magnusson, Hannu Nykvist, and David Alexander) to create a coaching scholarship in the amount of $250, which will provide a coach with free admission to the upcoming Goalie Coaching Symposium. The selected coach will be announced on Tuesday, July 28.

    So here it is, the first-ever scholarship offered by my new non-profit company! Just click the logo below or right here to download the application.

    Click the logo for the application!

    All you have to do is fill out the application and submit it back to The Goalie Guild. Details on the Goalie Coaching Symposium are available here.

    PLEASE NOTE: If you are applying for this scholarship, you must agree to attend the symposium, which is held August 28-30, 2015 in Madison, WI. You will be responsible for your own travel plans, but The Goalie Guild has your admission fee of $250 covered. Please make sure you are available to attend in person before applying, thanks!

  • Discussing the FGRE with Molly Schaus

    A few weeks ago, I came across an exciting new organization called the Foundation for Goaltending Research and Education (FGRE).

    The FGRE is a non-profit 501-c3 foundation dedicated to “the physical and psychological development of ice hockey goaltenders” through research projects, workshops, educational curriculum, and interactive goalie coaching symposiums. The Board of Directors includes Adler Mannheim goalie coach and Stop It Goaltending owner Brian Daccord, former NHL goaltender Brian Boucher, Lloyd Friedland, Bruce Irving, and USA Hockey goalie Molly Schaus.

    Shortly after discovering the FGRE, I reached out to Daccord, one of the top goalie coaches in the USA and a guy I hold in very high esteem. We discussed the inception of this foundation and how the directors were preparing for their first-annual Goalie Coaches Symposium, which will be held May 15-17 at The PAD in Woburn, MA. If you’re a goalie coach, be sure to check out all of the details and consider attending. Your registration fee directly supports the FGRE’s mission statement.

    Although I’m unable to attend their symposium due to prior engagements, I made sure to let Daccord know I would actively advocate their work as time goes on through The Goalie Guild, which is also in the process of transforming into a non-profit model (more on that later).

    Ultimately, I was very excited to discover the FGRE. Daccord is a major player in US goalie development, so his role with this foundation is a necessary component to the evolution of American goaltending. Along with companies like The Goalie Guild, InGoal Magazine, and NetWork Goaltending, we all have the same end-goal in mind — to provide a stronger voice for today’s growing goaltending community and to further educate goalies of all ages and skill levels.

    FGRE’s Goalie Coaches Symposium is a vital piece to the puzzle, and The Goalie Guild is proud to support their cause. As such, please take a few minutes to read this recent interview I held with Schaus, who recently won a Gold Medal with USA Hockey at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championship.

    Goldman: How did you get involved in hockey at an international level?

    Schaus: “Like most female goalies, I have two older brothers that put me in net when I was six or seven years old. I fell in love with the position from there, and then I watched the 1998 Winter Olympics over in Nagano, and the US team won their first-ever Gold Medal in the sport. I had an opportunity to meet the captain, Cammi Granato, talk with her, and wear the Gold Medal. For me, being in fourth grade, a dream was born. So it was always my passion to someday have the opportunity to play for Team USA and just represent the team in the Olympics. When I was in high school, I attended all of the usual development camps in Lake Placid, and after my freshman year of college, which was the summer of 2007, I was invited to attend the August camp – the Training Festival for the National Team. I made my first World Championship team in the Spring of 2008, and I’ve been on the team ever since then, and we just got back from winning a Gold Medal in Sweden last week.”

    Goldman: What was it like winning the Worlds over there in Sweden?

    Schaus: “Being one of the older players on the team now, I think it’s a little bit of a different perspective. When you’re young, you’re just playing hockey, having fun, and trying to win. The older you get, I think you realize what a unique opportunity it is to be there and to play the game at the highest level and to compete against the best players in the world. Having been on both sides of it and unfortunately falling short at both Olympics, I think coming back this year with a young team was exciting. We meshed really well as a team and played so well over there. Winning that final game was a bit of a wild one, the score was 7-to-5, but at the end of the day, to stand on the blue line hearing your anthem with a Gold Medal around your neck, I think that’s what you dream of as a kid. It never gets old.”

    Goldman: I watched a video of you a few days ago and you were talking about how much fun you were having coaching other female goalies. How will that follow through into working with the FGRE? Is this foundation a big part of your future?

    Schaus: “Absolutely. I enjoy working with goalies and I coached at UMass Boston for two seasons on a part-time basis and definitely enjoyed it. I don’t personally foresee myself becoming a college coach or going down that path, but I think that’s what is so exciting about the foundation I’m working for. Obviously hockey has meant the world to me and I want to give back and stay involved, so this is a different outlet where I may not be on the ice every single day or coaching 12 months a year, but I have an opportunity to impact youth development and work with goalies more off the ice, as well as with parents and coaches. I can talk about all of the topics that, as a goalie growing up, I couldn’t, because I didn’t have someone to talk to about these things most of the time. That’s what I think is so great about this, I’m helping goalies from a different direction.”

    Goldman: So in your own words, what is the mission of the FGRE?

    Schaus: “In the short term, it’s to educate people who are working with goalies and to educate the goalies themselves, all the way from the youth through the pro level. A lot of goalies don’t have access to goalie coaching, especially at a young age, so that’s where we step in and work to identify some of the problems and key areas where goalies can begin to own their own development and take responsibility for it, both on and off the ice. I think that’s a critical piece to this – there’s a lot you can do on the ice, but there’s a lot more information out there for the off-ice and mental side of things, and the injury prevention side of things as well.”

    Goldman: What is your role with the FGRE?

    Schaus: “My role overall is as one of the directors of the foundation. Throughout the season, we host two or three workshops a month. I reach out to local youth teams, coaches, and administrators, and try to build that network and understanding of who we are and what we do. We had a number of successful workshops throughout the year and had some great feedback, so our next step is to try and expand and reach more people, but also develop more curriculum so we can get people to stay involved. Right now, we’re excited to announce our first-ever goalie coaches symposium, which is happening in May. My main focus for the next four weeks is to spread the word and try to get a really good group of coaches together to have great discussions and to learn a lot from one another.”

    Goldman: Is there anything you want to tell coaches about the Goalie Coaches Symposium?

    Schaus: “It’s just such a unique opportunity to take three days to really help not only your own goalie coach, but the fees that come with it are a direct donation to our foundation, so it continues our work to help the future generation. So while you’re benefiting as a coach, you’re also a part of something bigger and taking care of all the goalies that are up and coming. I think that’s an exciting part of the weekend.”

    Goldman: We discussed earlier some of the research you’re doing with hip impingement. As we know, it’s a huge obstacle that goalies of every age are dealing with. Talk about your research and how that is benefiting goalies.

    Schaus: “Like you said, goalies of all ages are starting to have these conditions more often, so it just seemed like a no-brainer to start there with our research projects. We sat down with four experts and asked them for advice on what we could send out to the masses to help goalies be more proactive. We came up with eight exercises that would complement a team’s dynamic warmup. So after your team warmup, a goalie can do these eight exercises. We really focused on the hip area to get them loose and help prevent injury when they’re on the ice. It puts a little bit of responsibility into the goalie’s hands by exposing them to the problem and gives them ways to stay on top of their hip health, whether they’re eight or 28 years old. We put that out about a month ago and we’re continuing to try and spread that information as time goes on.”

    Goldman: It’s really cool, because the research project includes videos of you doing the exercises, and they’re really easy to read and understand. My new book discusses how USA Hockey lacks a goalie coaching certification program, which is exactly what Sweden and Finland have in place to help educate young goalies and amateur volunteer goalie coaches on this exact topic. So looking at your Hip Injury Prevention Project, I believe it would belong perfectly in the educational material I’d love to see USA Hockey adopt in a future goalie development manual. It is really tremendous information. But that aside, from someone who plays Nationally for Team USA, do you think we’re getting to a point where we have to start teaching goalies to stand up more at practice or manage the number of times they butterfly in day-to-day practices?

    Schaus: “It’s true. Different countries are putting together these certification programs. I’ve worked with a handful of amazing goalie coaches over the course of my life with all kinds of different opinions on things. I don’t think goalies at a young age in this country have that direction. It’s just ‘get out there, get in the crease, and stop some pucks’ and we hate that model, so we want to be that voice and try to make a change. Hopefully someday USA Hockey will get on board with that and try to put something together for goalies.”

    Goldman: When I first came across the FGRE, I wasn’t surprised to see Dac was involved with it. He’s such a key player and advocate for goalie development in the United States. It’s also great to see you’re involved as well. Anyone of your caliber and experience playing at a National level is not only huge for young female goalies, but all goalies in general. Is there anything else you want to say to readers and followers?

    Schaus: “The hockey community is so small and so passionate, and then another subculture of that is the goaltending community. I think it’s pretty neat when we can all come together and discuss and share our passion. That’s what our symposium is all about, it’s an opportunity. It’s not often you get 40 goalie coaches sitting down with professionals and experts and just talking and learning all together. That’s what is so exciting about this opportunity.”

  • NetWork Goaltending Launches New Website

    Back in August, Elite Goalies owner and Dallas Stars goalie coach Mike Valley held one of the most progressive, jaw-dropping goalie camps you could possibly imagine.

    That’s because it included eight NHL goaltenders honing their skills alongside four of the world’s top goalie coaches just two weeks before the 2014-15 NHL training camps began.

    Valley was joined by Thomas Magnusson (director of goalie development in Sweden), Hannu Nykvist (director of goalie development in Finland), and David Alexander (assistant goalie coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning) to create a real-life goalie coaching consortium of global proportions. Having the heads of goalie development for arguably the two biggest goalie factories in the world was something that had never been done before, nor had there ever been a goalie camp that included eight NHL goalies sharing the ice together and learning about each other’s styles.

    Photo Copyright: Jason Kessenich, AEPOC Photography

    I was blessed to be a part of this immaculate and inspiring NHL goalie camp, as I was brought in to document the camp and handle all of the on-ice video for the entire week. It was perfect timing — it came at the very end of my “Between Two Worlds” book project, so you’ll read a lot more about the camp and the incredible sharing environment between the coaches and goalies when the book is published in a few more months.

    As the week progressed, the coaches quickly realized they had a very special camaraderie. Without any egos getting in the way, their ability to share ideas and communicate openly was something unforeseen on such a global scale. This created a rich learning environment with the NHL goalies, making this event less like a camp and more like an interactive elite goaltending symposium.

    With such a special group of coaches working together, a number of new motivations came out of the camp. The coaches returned to their native homelands, but not before collectively creating a new idea: NetWork Goaltending.

    NetWork Goaltending has a simple but poignant mission statement. Taken directly from their website, they are dedicated to “…cultivating a learning environment for the global goalie community through four Pillars: Sharing, Educating, Mentoring, and Training. The more we share, the stronger we become, both as individuals and as one united voice.”

    Through a platform called Net•Talks, the founders have opened the door for goalies and goalie coaches everywhere to share their ideas, methods, and experiences on a global scale.

    Their mission extends well beyond the realm of a website. It turns out that they have already established a series of interactive events, starting with an annual summer Training Camp for up to 24 goaltenders. This one takes place in Vierumäki, Finland in late-June.

    They have also confirmed dates for their first-annual Goalie Coaching Symposium, which takes place in Chicago from August 28-30.

    This weekend event will include a handful of keynote speakers giving live presentations on a variety of goaltending topics, all while providing goalies, coaches, parents, and all attendees with an opportunity to share ideas and create new friendships.

    As you can see, the founders are committed to sharing ideas and breaking down barriers that have previously created a gap between Europe and North America. But as more technologies allow more goalie minds to network together, organizations like theirs have the potential to make a major difference in the way we play and coach the position.

    Be sure to visit NetWork Goaltending today and reach out to them at any time to get involved with their programming and annual events!

  • Video Breakdown: Bernier’s Reverse-VH Fail

    If the first goal allowed in the 2014-15 NHL season is any indication of things to come, then I’m legitimately scared for all of us.

    Yes…I’m being over-dramatic…but only for the sake of teaching.

    At the same time, I’m shocked we’re not even 24 hours into the regular season and this whole “Reverse-VH Fail” thing has come up. I didn’t want to write this report. I didn’t want to be the guy that said, “I told you so.”

    But this is the type of goal that nightmares are made of, and it was clearly unacceptable for a goalie of Jonathan Bernier‘s caliber.

    On the positive side, this play acts as a key teaching point for the entire goaltending community. It’s a chance to try and reinforce the notion that there is no single ‘failsafe’ technique when it comes to post integrations. It’s also important for younger goalies to see that, even at the highest levels, these types of goals are being scored. It happens. For goalie coaches, it’s a chance to reinforce some teaching points that will help eliminate these issues sooner rather than later.

    So I just wanted to quickly discuss a few aspects of this goal on Bernier as it pertains to post integrations, establishing a strong seal in tight, and how shooters are much smarter than we think.

    First of all, remember that the Reverse-VH is mainly used on wraps and jam plays. This play isn’t originally established from along or below the goal line until moments before the shot is released, something to keep in mind when it comes to choosing the Reverse-VH ‘tool’ in your toolbox.

    Secondly, what Bernier did was not wrong, it just wasn’t as effective as it could’ve been. And a big part of that was due to a keen move by Max Pacioretty.

    On this play, Pacioretty starts gaining speed way back on his own blueline. The attack is established from the left half-boards and he continues to subtly gain speed after maneuvering around Dion Phaneuf. He looks smooth, but he’s moving fast.

    The release point is how you can tell that NHL shooters already understand what the RVH is all about. Instead of trying to cut in front of the net on his forehand for a jam, or across the top of the crease area (a second defender is trying to cut off that lane anyways), Max pulls the puck back and quickly releases the puck just outside the Trapezoid line.

    This catches Bernier in the act, and when the puck comes off the blade, he’s still dropping the post knee to the ice. Because of Pacioretty’s move, Bernier’s execution took too long.

    When I was in Madison at the Elite Goalies NHL Pro Camp, I was on the ice with Joe Pavelski and saw him watching Reverse-VH drills with a close eye. From there, he strategically worked on Pacioretty’s type of move during team practices. It took zero time for him to successfully pull it off in scrimmages, and voila…other players picked up on it.

    So this is what shooters are starting to do against the Reverse-VH, and we need to pay attention to it right now.

    Bernier is still dropping into the RVH while the shot is being released (click for full-size)

    Pacioretty’s move accomplishes two things that work against goalies.

    1. He creates space for the puck to be elevated in tight. Obviously the puck can be just a few feet away from the goalie and still be ‘roofed’ if the shooter has time to get under it, but for the most part, shooters need a little space between the puck and the goalie in order to get it under the bar. Pacioretty doesn’t lift this shot shoulder high, but he created the space to do so.

    2. Pacioretty stole valuable time from Bernier by pulling the puck back to his forehand and releasing a wrister all in one motion. When the puck is being released, Bernier is still dropping into the Reverse-VH. In tight, goaltending is a race against time. And this is a race that most goalies will lose.

    Those two things together are murderous moves for a goalie trying to execute a clean and smooth RVH technique.

    The next thing I wanted to discuss is the type of RVH Bernier executed. He opted to go skate on post, which again, is fine. But there are components to skate-on-post that are important to understand when you’re in a race against time. If you feel like time isn’t on your side, or you anticipate that you’ll have to execute this move quickly, I suggest you get comfortable with the ‘scoop-in’ RVH technique.

    NOTE: From now on, I’m calling the ‘scoop in’ technique the Pad-Into-Post technique. So you have Skate-On-Post, Pad-In-Post, and the toughest of them all, Toe-On-Post (toe bridge).

    When you go skate-on-post, your knee and hip is pushed further away from the post than if you go pad-in-post. This puts more strain on the entire post-side of your body, because you have to lean your shoulders and core back at a further degree in order to seal the space above the leg pad and the post. There’s more of a significant lean back, and this not only takes more time to accomplish, it’s harder to pull off quickly.

    When you go pad-in-post, all of that strain is eliminated because every part of your body, from your leg to your hip and ribs and chest, are so much closer to the post. So it takes less time to accomplish a seal from the ice to the crossbar joint, it puts less strain on your body, and it eliminates the need to lean back with the shoulders to establish that seal. Your entire spine is in better alignment, your shoulders are square, and you’re simply there.

    Obviously choosing which route to take in order to drop and seal the ice is a matter of muscle memory, reading the play, and knowing how much time and space you have to work with. But in this specific situation, I feel strongly that Pad-into-Post would have likely stolen time back from Pacioretty and given Bernier a better chance to make this save.

    From my own personal and observational eye, as I broke this play down, I noticed how Bernier’s back ‘anchor’ foot came off the ice just moments after the puck crosses the goal line.

    To me, this is visual proof of how substantial and severe that upper body lean into the post can be when you go skate-on-post. This is even harder for guys who have longer femur and tibia bones, as this pushes the hip even further away from the post. This is the issue I run into personally, as I have long legs in relation to my entire body, and I simply feel like it takes too long to drop into a skate-on-post RVH. I still use it, but when I’m in a race against time, I’m pad-in-post.

    Case in point: there are so many miniscule teaching points with post integration techniques. You have so many things that need to be done right in order to establish a perfect seal, and that’s not even discussing how to create a perfect ‘push-off’ point when the time comes to either bump across to the far post, or project forward to the middle or top of the crease. And on top of it all, you have to execute this move as quickly and fluidly as possible.

    It’s not easy. It takes time to get it right. The muscle memory does not click overnight.

    But no matter what type of RVH technique you choose in any given moment, the one piece of advice I’ll constantly give is this: maintain an active and reactive mindset.

    Remember to lean slightly forward, get your head over your body, and most importantly, activate your hands. If you’re dropping on the glove side, give yourself a chance to gain proximity with the glove. If you drop on the blocker side, give yourself to go paddle down and mirror the puck with your stick.

    At the end of the day, as greasy as this goal appears to be, Bernier’s decision was not wrong. There were many ways he could have integrated into his post and come up with a save. But that’s up to him to “figure it out” (one of my favorite sayings when I’m coaching), and for you to learn from.

    Please, for the sake of my sanity, don’t let this happen to you.

  • Advanced Goalie Stats and Double Blue Analytics

    Advanced stats has taken the hockey world by storm, and rightfully so.

    But as this beautiful storm rages on, the goalie coaching and scouting community is still learning how to apply these advanced stats in the most meaningful way possible.

    Read more →

  • PRO Goaltending Camp: Adrian Clark

    After playing catch-up for a few weeks, we’re ready to continue our series of mini-profiles on the PRO Goaltending Development Program by taking a look at 17-year-old Adrian Clark.

    Born in Toronto (July 5, 1997), Clark currently plays for the Carelton Place Canadians in the Junior-A Central Canadian Hockey League. He’s off to a red-hot start to kick off the 2014-15 season, winning both of his first two games while stopping 59 of 61 shots along the way.

    In the 2012-13 season, Clark won an OHL Cup title as a Midget Minor with the Oakville Rangers AAA program. From there, he spent last season with the Vaughan Kings in the GTHL before earning a role with Carelton Place.

    PRO Goaltending founder Michael Lawrence is confident Clark will eventually evolve into a high-profile prospect, saying “He quietly got better every day of camp, gradually reflecting a larger learning curve than his camp counterparts.”

    Originally a draft pick of the Soo Greyhounds (selected 151st overall in 2013), it appears as if Clark may now be aiming for an NCAA D-1 scholarship. He’s known for being very intelligent, school is a priority for him, and he’s capable of learning and incorporating new elements and techniques quickly.

    In order to learn more about Clark, we reached out to Eli Rassi, goalie coach for Carelton Place. Rassi also used to coach with Lawrence and PRO Goaltending.

    “Adrian has great size, agility, and a very strong technical base,” Rassi said. “He’s also very composed and knows how to maximize the amount of space he can take up with his frame. One of his best skills is reading pucks off of stick blades and tracking it all the way in or off his body. He’s also extremely coachable, a student of the position, and keen on learning.”

    In order to enhance the skills he learned under Lawrence’s wing at the PRO Goaltending Development Program, Clark also worked with with a personal trainer named Donovan Service and a Pilates Core Trainer named Sally Belanger. He also participated in a weekly skate with Stan Butler from the North Bay Battalion. 

    By dedicating time to incorporating Pilates into his off-season training, Clark is sure to benefit from the added core strength, which will continue to enhance his body control and overall durability. It’s a blueprint that more goalies should try to follow, as it enhances every technique and tactic in his tool box. As a result of his off-season work ethic, Clark is now garnering legitimate interest from NCAA programs.

  • PRO Goaltending Camp: Shayne Battler

    Even though the Sarnia Sting drafted Shayne Battler in the sixth round of the 2014 OHL Entry Draft, there was quite a buzz surrounding the selection within the organization’s scouting staff. That’s because their goalie coach, Dave Rook, saw some key similarities to another southpaw he developed during his tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets – Steve Mason.

    Comparisons aside, Battler made his own mark on the OHL’s top prospects list thanks to a solid season with the Clarington Toros midget AAA program.

    Like Battler (listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds), if you’re a teenage goaltender blessed with a lanky frame, you’re probably being taught to try and play inside the blue paint as often as possible. However, for many goalies that hit sudden growth spurts in their bantam and midget years, this is a complicated adjustment to make.

    For Battler, the adjustment is not as daunting, as he already naturally executes with an economy of movement. As a result, Battler was a perfect fit for the PRO Goaltending system.

    After spending two weeks with Michael Lawrence at the 2014 Development Program camp, the smooth transition employing his coaching style allowed the Oshawa native to stand out from the rest of the group.

    “Shayne’s style fits into the PRO Goaltending model extremely well,” Lawrence reinforced. “He plays our system in the blue paint consistently, he’s bull-like on pucks, plays a very simple game, and has a big, V-like frame.”

    Teaching athletically gifted goalies that “less is more” can be a time-consuming, drawn-out process that takes years of constant reinforcement. But when a prospect already has a solid understanding of how to limit his movements and make small, simple adjustments in order to improve squareness and simplify recoveries and lateral transitions, the entire coaching and learning process becomes that much easier.

    That’s an additional asset in the bank for Battler, who is already benefiting from drawing comparisons to an NHL starting goaltender.

  • PRO Goaltending Camp: Colton Point

    Plucking Colton Point in the 14th round (279th overall) of the 2014 OHL Entry Draft was a low-risk, high-reward move for the Erie Otters.

    Listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Point towered over his opponents and posted a 3.41 goals-against average in 21 games with the North Bay Trappers. He was rewarded for his efforts by earning a spot on Team NOHA in the 2014 OHL Cup.

    Under the watchful eye of Trappers goalie coach Kyle Abut, Point made major strides with his overall focus last season, leading his team to a second-place finish in the Great North Midget League (GNML).

    From there, Point maintained a hefty training regime throughout the summer, culminating with the PRO Goaltending Development Program. Two weeks with Michael Lawrence and Colton’s overall game was bolstered well in advance of what will be a very difficult task — making the Otters roster. Erie already has Devin Williams in the fold, as well as Jake Lawr, who was selected 28th overall in the 2014 OHL Draft.

    In speaking with Lawrence, he referred to Point as a potential “high-end OHL goalie and decent NHL pick.” This comes after Colton spent the past year integrating the PRO Goaltending system into his game.

    Considered as a diamond in the rough, since the Otters drafted Lawr well ahead of him in the 2014 OHL draft, the fact that Point is flying under the radar plays nicely into his hands. This is especially true since he has been positively reviewed by Ottawa Senators goalie coach and OHL goalie consultant Rick Wamsley.

    But as a future prospect with plenty of size and athleticism on his side, there’s no doubt Point will get his fair share of opportunities to play in the OHL as time goes on.

  • PRO Goaltending Camp: Michael Di Pietro

    If you get a chance to speak with Ontario-based scouts about the 2015 OHL Entry Draft, it’s almost unanimous that the first goalie expected to be selected is Michael Di Pietro.

    Di Pietro spent the 2013-14 season with the Sun County Panthers in the Alliance Hockey Minor Midget Pavilion League (AHMMPL).

    PRO Goaltending owner Michael Lawrence quickly labeled Di Pietro as the camp’s “Young Stud”, saying he has the making to be an OHL first-round draft pick.

    But beyond Di Pietro’s natural athleticism and above-average instincts, as a 15-year-old, what makes him such a quality prospect are his preparation skills. He’s known as being the first guy waiting to get into the rink before early-morning practices, he’s the first to arrive for games, he puts in the extra time to warm up his eyes and hands with tennis ball exercises, and he’s very disciplined with his entire pre-game routine. He also can’t wait to get into the room to do video analysis with his goalie coach or his head coach.

    Consider this a classy, crucial form of goaltender etiquette, one that is rarely seen in a 15-year-old. If he continues to take great pride in his craft and respect the preparation process, he’ll be developing that pro mentality much earlier than most prospects his age.

    In terms of his on-ice game, Di Pietro is very much a diamond in the rough. The PRO Goaltending system is very new to him, so Lawrence explained that there’s a lot of work to be done. He wants to stop the puck so badly that he’s over-aggressive, spending too much time in the white ice.

    But I always feel it’s easier to dial back a goalie’s intensity than it is to try and crank it up, so as time goes on, Di Pietro is expected to work on making more conservative pushes and not challenging as often.

    There are very few 15-year-old prospects that have the body control and awareness to display containment on a regular basis. But backed by impressive preparation skills and good off-ice and practice habits, the foundation is set for Di Pietro to have a strong season in preparation for the 2015 OHL Entry Draft.

  • PRO Goaltending Camp: Evan Cormier

    Bowmanville, ONT. native Evan Cormier was a fifth-round draft pick (85th overall) of the North Bay Battalion in 2013. He spent last season playing for the North Bay Trappers in the NOJHL, where he posted a .911 save percentage in 34 regular season games. His consistency for the Trappers earned a spot on the league’s Second All-Star Team.

    He capped off a strong season of development by earning his first OHL win for North Bay on Feb. 17, 2014 against Peterborough. He made his OHL debut as a 15-year-old on Nov. 2, 2013, and in three total OHL appearances last season, Cormier stopped 29 of 30 shots.

    Cormier, who is most recently listed at 6-foot-2 and 183 pounds, has an optimal frame; he’s not too lanky and underweight, but by no means is he considered a smaller goalie. He’s also a late-1997 prospect (born on November 6), so his draft year is not until 2016.

    In speaking with PRO Goaltending head goalie coach Michael Lawrence, it sounds like Cormier was a perfect fit for the 2014 Development Program camp. He’s looking to take the next step in his career by earning a full-time spot on North Bay’s 2014-15 squad.

    We selected this short clip of Cormier because it showcased steady hands, early eyes, and good footwork. I like the paths he took on his lateral adjustments when recovering back to his skates and then pushing from the blue line angle to the center angle, or from one blue line angle to the opposite blue line. He appears relaxed, controlled, and comfortable.

    Lawrence believes Cormier has the potential to be a high-end draft pick, and it certainly helps that he’s a late birth year. You can read more about Cormier’s OHL debut and see one of his YouTube highlight videos right here.