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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remote coaching and scouting is quickly becoming a more prevalent and viable option within the goaltending community.
One of the main reasons for this is sheer accessibility, mainly due to new technologies.
I can’t be everywhere at once, but I want to scout as many prospects as possible. Remote scouting certainly isn’t the same as scouting in a live setting, but when “being there” isn’t an option due to schedule conflicts or budget restraints, using tools like Coach’s Eye and Double Blue Analytics can be quite valuable to everyone involved (the camp’s coaching staff, the goalies in attendance, and any potentially interested teams).
Such is the case for the recent two-week PRO Goaltending Development Camp that took place in Oshawa, ONT. Run by Michael Lawrence, who recently accepted the goalie coaching gig for HC Ambrì-Piotta in Switzerland’s NLA, this development camp is a high-intensity training program that prepares major-junior, collegiate, and pro goalies for the next level.
A few previous attendees of this camp include Malcolm Subban, Mark Visentin, Scott Wedgewood, and Daniel Altshuller, just to name a few.
Due to previous assignments with my Between Two Worlds project, I was unable to attend this camp. But I did want to take advantage of an opportunity to do remote scouting for what is considered as one of the top annual development goalie camps in Canada.
When this situation arises, the goal is simple: get a basic idea of what these goalies are all about.
I’m not trying to write a full-blown scouting report on each kid or try and gain an intimate understanding of their style. I just want to get my eyes on these prospects so I have a better idea of who is out there and what they’re doing.
Doing remote scouting for high-end prospects camps also gives me a better understanding of what goalie coaches are teaching, how they’re implementing variations of commonly-used drills, and how they teach certain techniques.
For example, in speaking with Lawrence during the 2014 Development Program, I learned that PRO Goaltending’s system really stresses structured, economical crease movements, as well as puck-tracking and rebound placement. Lawrence also preaches and emphasizes being situationally aware of their positioning in the net so that all secondary movements are done with precision and purpose.
So while it’s fair to call this specific scouting project a very generalized or “watered-down” version of live scouting, there’s still a lot of value in doing this for a respected company like PRO Goaltending.
A special thanks to George Grammenopoulos for providing me with the videos, and I want to thank Lawrence for spending time with me discussing each prospect amidst our respective hectic travel schedules!
First up on the list is Evan Cormier, a prospect for the OHL’s North Bay Battalion. Check back later for a short video of Evan and a few scouting notes.
One of the last stops on my Between Two Worlds summer project gets underway this afternoon. Now I’m off to Toronto, where I’ll be scouting and mentoring 24 goalies in Eli Wilson’s Elite Prospects Camp. Some of you might remember I attended this camp in Edmonton last summer, so I’m stoked to see some familiar faces and some new ones as well!
This year’s camp is the perfect environment for my book project. Not only does the roster include a couple of OHL and BCHL goalies, but it also includes a couple of high-level Slovakian prospects and the goalie for Korea’s National Team.
For this camp, I will be holding exit interviews with each goaltender in order to give them my feedback on their strengths, weaknesses, and other key aspects of their style and overall development. I will also be holding a presentation on The Power Within and the Three Pillars of Elite Goaltending.
Below is a closer look at the roster, as well as a few notes on some guys I’ve been exposed to before. Be sure to follow @EliWilsonGoaltending and @TheGoalieGuild on Twitter in order to stay up to date on the camp.
Eli Wilson Goaltending Elite Prospects Camp Roster
Matej Tomek: The highly-touted Bratislava native is going to be a treat to evaluate. A 6-foot-3 goalie born in 1997, Tomek was lights out for the Slovakian National U-17 team, and he also played in 12 games for their U-18 program. He was drafted 172nd overall by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL) in 2014. I have not seen him play before, but I do know that he’s expected to be one of the top international goalies available in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Daniel Gibl: Gibl is probably the most recognizable name in this camp. A native of Ilava, Slovakia, the 1995-born prospect played in 27 games for the Barrie Colts and posted a .902 SV%.
Ho Seung Son: It’s not every day you get an opportunity to scout a goalie from the Korean National Team. Son is a 31-year-old goalie hailing from Seoul, and has a ton of experience at the international level. In 2010, Son led Anyang Halla to an Asia League championship after posting a .904 SV% in 35 regular season games and a .906 SV% in nine playoff games. He also has two Gold medals and one Silver medal from various World Championships tournaments.
David Ovsjannikov: Born in Plzen, Czech Republic, Ovsjannikov is a 6-foot-5 prospect born in 1997. He spent the better part of the past three seasons playing for the Oakland Grizzlies U-16 and U-18 (T1EL) teams, but finished last season with the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL. They signed him to a standard OHL contract in September of 2013. You can read more about him here.
Brendan Johnston: Another OHL prospect born in 1997, Johnston was drafted 97th overall by the Windsor Spitfires in 2013. He won a Bronze medal in the OHL Gold Cup with the Chatham-Kent Cyclones midget-major AAA program in 2013 and hails from Port Lambton, Ontario.
Justin Fazio: A native of Sarnia, Fazio appeared in three games for the Sting (OHL) last season. He was drafted 69th overall in 2013 and spent most of last season with the Lambton Shores Predators of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. I have been tracking Fazio’s progress for the past two seasons, but this will be my first time seeing him perform in a live setting.
Francis Marotte: The Longueuil, Quebec native spent the 2013-14 season playing for the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the BCHL, appearing in 10 games and posting an .864 save percentage. A 1995 birth-year prospect, Marotte previously played for Rice Memorial Prep, which is located in Vermont. He also played for the Rocky Mountain Roughriders, a solid AAA program based in Colorado.
Sean Green: This 1996-born prospect was the very first goalie to sign up for The Goalie Guild’s first-ever Scouting Profiler Clinic, which took place last summer in Minneapolis, MN. You can read his scouting report from that clinic here. He spent the 2013-14 season playing for the Whitby Wildcats AAA program in Ontario.
Kristopher Augustine: Finished his sophomore season for Andover High School in Massachusetts and is a New York native.
Tyler Parmiter: Junior AA
Ben Dennis: Junior-A
Colby Muise: Midget-AAA
Ryan Fisher: Midget-AA
Jaxon Maloney: Midget-AA
Callum Boland: Midget-Minors
Hunter Bosch: Bantam-AAA
Vincent Shonka: Bantam-AAA
Jarett Omstead: Bantam-AAA
I’m also excited to catch up with six goalies that I scouted at last year’s Elite Prospects Camp in Edmonton. Click on their name to read their scouting reports from that camp:
Braddock Baalerud: Junior-A
Liam Bohm-Meyer: Midget-Minor AA
Anthony Coletta: Toronto, GOTHL
Nicolas Herrebrugh: Midget-AA Alberta
Anthony McCarthy: Midget-Minor AAA
Liam McOnie: Midget-AAA